Organization of American States: A Primer [Updated May 11, 2005]   [open pdf - 41KB]

"The Organization of American States (OAS) is an international organization based in Washington, D.C., comprised of 35 Western Hemisphere states. The OAS works to promote democracy, protect human rights, preserve security, expand trade, and address cross-cutting issues of hemispheric concern. From 1994-2004, the OAS was revitalized by the leadership of Secretary General Cesar Gaviria, and the meetings of regional heads of state held as part of the 'Summit of the Americas' process. In 2001, OAS member-states adopted the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and the organization has made significant efforts to deal with threats to democracy in Bolivia, Haiti, and Venezuela. In October 2004, the new Secretary General, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who had proposed a number of reforms to solve the OAS's chronic budget shortfalls, resigned amid allegations of corruption from his tenure as president of Costa Rica. On May 2, 2005, José Miguel Insulza, the former Chilean minister of government, was elected as Secretary General of the OAS. Insulza will be tasked with solving the organization's budget crisis and preventing further democratic breakdowns in the hemisphere. The United States is the primary contributor to the OAS. The FY2005 estimated U.S. regular contribution to the OAS is $55.7 million; the FY2006 budget request is for $65.9 million. This paper will be updated as events warrant."

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CRS Report for Congress, RS22095
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