The Organization of American States is an international organization that was founded on 30 April 1948 for the purposes of solidarity and cooperation among its member states within the Western Hemisphere. Headquartered in the US capital, Washington, DC, the OAS has 35 members, which are independent states in the Americas.
- The Organization’s official languages are Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English.
- The United States historically has sought to use the OAS to advance economic, political, and security objectives in the Western Hemisphere.
- Since the 1990s, the organization has focused on election monitoring.
The following 21 member states met in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1948 to sign the OAS Charter: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba1, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United States of America, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Subsequently, the following 14 member states joined: Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago (1967); Jamaica (1969); Grenada (1975); Suriname (1977); Dominica (Commonwealth of), Saint Lucia (1979); Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (1981); The Bahamas (Commonwealth of) (1982); St. Kitts & Nevis (1984); Canada (1990); Belize and Guyana (1991).
The Organization of American States, in order to put into practice the principles on which it is founded and to fulfil its regional obligations under the Charter of the United Nations, proclaims the following essential purposes:
- To strengthen the peace and security of the continent;
- To promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect for the principle of nonintervention;
- To prevent possible causes of difficulties and to ensure the pacific settlement of disputes that may arise among the Member States;
- To provide for common action on the part of those States in the event of aggression;
- To seek the solution of political, juridical, and economic problems that may arise among them;
- To promote, by cooperative action, their economic, social, and cultural development;
- To eradicate extreme poverty, which constitutes an obstacle to the full democratic development of the peoples of the hemisphere; and
- To achieve an effective limitation of conventional weapons that will make it possible to devote the largest amount of resources to the economic and social development of the Member States.”
Flag of Organization of American States
The flag of the Organization of American States is one of the official symbols of the Organization of American States, it was adopted in 1965 and has been amended several times as new members join the Organization, it consists of the OAS’ emblem defacing a light blue field.
The seal of the Organization represents the flags of all the Member States
- The design was updated for the last time in 1991 when Belize and Guyana joined the Organization of American States. Each time a new member state enters, its flag is incorporated into the design. The use of the flag has been established in accordance with the traditions and customs in exercise throughout the years in the Organization.
The design consists of a rectangle of a blue background with a white circle, bordered in gold, in its centre. On the inside of this circle is the organization shell consisting of a grouping of flags of all member states, which are currently 35, hoisted on golden masts. The order of the flags is given in Spanish alphabetical order, starting with Antigua and Barbuda in the lower left, following clockwise until Venezuela in the lower right.
Flags of OAS members
All 35 independent states of the Americas have ratified the OAS Charter and are members of the Organization.