OAS—Organization of American States
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The Organization of American States (OAS) is the primary regional cooperative organization for the countries of the Western Hemisphere. It has 35 member states, including the United States. (Cubas is a member of the OAS; however, its present government has been excluded from participation since 1962.)

Origins. The OAS is the oldest regional international organization in the world and traces its origins to the Congress of Panama (1826), and the International Union of American Republics formed in 1890 and often referred to as the Pan American Union. The OAS Charter was adopted in 1948.

Organization. The OAS General Assembly is the supreme policy-making body of the OAS. It holds a regular session each year in one of the member states or at headquarters in Washington, DC, and delegations are generally headed by foreign ministers. The General Secretariat executes the programs and policies decided upon by the General Assembly and other OAS councils. Directed by the Secretary General, it serves the entire organization and all member states.

The OAS has two councils: The Permanent Council, composed of ambassadors representing each member state, which meets regularly throughout the year in Washington, DC and conducts the day-to-day business of the OAS; and the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI) which serves as a forum for strengthening cooperation among member states in order to promote development. CIDI meets annually at the ministerial level. Sub-ministerial delegations also meet throughout the year at OAS headquarters in the Executive Committee of CIDI (CEPCIDI) to discuss and negotiate policy documents and approve cooperation projects.

OAS Involvement in Education. Sector-specific Inter-American Committees meet at a sub-ministerial level to follow up on the resolutions and policies adopted by the ministers in a particular sector. The Inter-American Committee on Education (CIE) was formally launched in August 2003 to facilitate follow-up on education-related mandates.

Among the important ongoing hemispheric activities in which the OAS is involved is the Summit of the Americas. The OAS is actively involved in working with member countries to support their implement Summit initiatives. The OAS began to undertake this role after the Santiago Summit, at which region's leaders assigned the OAS Secretariat responsibility for serving as the institutional memory of the Summit process, and for convoking ministerial level meetings several topic areas, including education.

ED Contact:     Rafael Nevarez


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Last Modified: 05/14/2009