GS/OAS Ja 50: Fifty Years of an OAS Presence in Jamaica

A Glimpse of the History of the OAS (1948-1968)

The Organization of American States (OAS) is the oldest regional political organization in the world. It is the largest association of nations in the Western Hemisphere set up in the wake of World War II to promote social, economic and technical cooperation among American states and continues to fulfill its regional obligations even within the ambit of the Charter of the United Nations.

It was founded on April 30, 1948, at the Ninth International Conference of American States in Bogota, Colombia on the same principles of regional cooperation and collective security that first guided the Congress of Panama that was convened by The Liberator, Simón Bolivar in 1826. The guiding principles of the Organization were set out in the OAS Charter which was signed by twenty-one countries of Latin America and the USA and was ratified three years later by 14 governments of the Americas.

The history of the OAS Charter evidenced several amendments, but one of the first truly transformative changes which came into being in 1967 ushered in a pathway to membership for newly independent countries, an opportunity seized by newly sovereign states Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. On August 20, 1969, Jamaica ascended to full-fledged membership of the august body, in the process underscoring the prestigious standing of the OAS as a truly hemispheric organization.