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Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs)

Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) are created by states through multilateral treaties that act like a constitution in that the states parties are consenting to be bound by the treaty that sets up the agencies, functions, and purposes of the organizat

E. Organization of American States

 E. The Organization of American States (OAS)

The role of the OAS in the Western Hemisphere is not comparable to the role the EU plays in Europe or even the role the UN plays in the world. Its main organs are the General Assembly, a Permanent Council, and a General Secretiat. The General Assembly is “the supreme organ” of the OAS; all member nations are represented in the General Assembly. A second organ, the Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, appears to function partially as an organ and partially as an event. Its purpose is “to consider problems of an urgent nature and of common interest to the American States, and to serve as the Organ of Consultation.” The Permanent Council consists of ambassadors of the member states and reports to the General Assembly. It has the responsibility to keep peace among the members, carry out the decisions of the General Assembly, to oversee the standards of the work of the General Secretariat, to draft treaties, and to submit recommendations to the General Assembly. Like the Permanent Council, the Inter-American Council for Integral Development consists of representatives of the member states and reports to the General Assembly. Its function is “to promote cooperation...for the purpose of...helping to eliminate extreme poverty...especially...with respect to the economic, social, educational, cultural, scientific, and technological fields.” The General Secretariat is the executive organ of the OAS; it carries out the decisions of the General Assembly and the other organs.

The OAS’s website is not as extensive as that of the UN or the EU, but is attractive, functional, and well organized. It provides both retrospective and current OAS publications and documents. It includes treaties, for example, from 1948 to 2002. The homepage provides links to an explanation of the structure of the organization and OAS documents. The documents page included links to

The Document Search is a template with options for document type, number, and date; the classification number; author; title; event number; and the processing agent.

The OAS has two judicial organs, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Court of Human RightsThe two of them work together to implement The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (1948) and the American Convention on Human Rights (1969).  Their documents are available on their websites.

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