United Nations

cold war, taking on new and important
challenges. In 1994, the region’s 34
democratically elected presidents and
prime ministers met in Miami for the
First Summit of the Americas, where they
established broad political, economic,
and social development goals. They have
continued to meet periodically since
then to examine common interests and
priorities. Through the ongoing Summits
of the Americas process, the region’s
leaders have entrusted the OAS with a
growing number of responsibilities to
help advance the countries’ shared vision.
With four official languages—English,
Spanish, Portuguese, and French—
the OAS reflects the rich diversity
of peoples and cultures across the
Americas. The OAS has 35 member
states: the independent nations of North,
Central, and South America, and of the
Caribbean. Since 1962, Cuba has been
barred from participation by resolution
of the Eighth Meeting of Consultation of
Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Countries
from all around the world are permanent
observers, closely following the issues
that are critical to the Americas and often
providing key financial support for OAS
Member states set major policies and
goals through the General Assembly,
which gathers the hemisphere’s
foreign ministers once a year in regular
session. The Permanent Council,
made up of ambassadors appointed by
member states, meets regularly at OAS
headquarters in Washington, DC, to
guide ongoing policies and actions. The
chairmanship of the Permanent Council
rotates every 3 months, in alphabetical
order of countries. Each member state has
an equal voice, and most decisions are
made through consensus.
Also under the OAS umbrella are
several specialized agencies that
have considerable autonomy: the Pan
American Health Organization in
Washington, DC; the Inter-American
Children’s Institute in Montevideo,
Uruguay; the Inter-American Institute
for Cooperation on Agriculture in San
Jose, Costa Rica; and the Pan American
Institute of Geography and History and
the Inter-American Indian Institute, both
in Mexico City.
In 1948, 21 nations of the hemisphere
signed the OAS Charter at the Ninth
International Conference of American
States. They were Argentina, Bolivia,
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica,
Cuba (barred from participation),
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El
Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras,
Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay,
Peru, United States of America, Uruguay,
and Venezuela.
Subsequently, 14 other countries joined
the OAS by signing and ratifying the
Charter. They were Barbados, Trinidad
and Tobago, Jamaica, Grenada, Suriname,
Dominica, Saint Lucia, Antigua and
Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,
the Bahamas, Saint Kitts and Nevis,
Canada, Belize, and Guyana. This brings
the number of member states to 35.
For further information, contact the Organization of American States, Seventeenth Street and Constitution
Avenue NW.,Washington, DC 20006. Phone, 202–458–3000. Fax, 202–458–3967.
United Nations, New York, NY 10017
Phone, 212–963–1234. Internet, http://www.un.org.
United Nations Office at Geneva: Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
United Nations Office at Vienna: ViennaInternational Centre, P.O. Box 500, A–1400, Vienna, Austria
Washington, DC: U.N. Information Centre, Suite 400, 1775 K Street NW.,Washington, DC 20006
Phone, 202–331–8670. Fax, 202–331–9191. Internet, http://www.unicwash.org. Email, unicdc@
Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON
Director-General, U.N. Office at Geneva KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV

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