OF THE ORGANIZATION
OF AMERICAN STATES
As amended by the Protocol of Amendment to the Charter of
the Organization of American States "Protocol of Buenos Aires",
signed on February 27, 1967, at the Third Special Inter-American
the Protocol of Amendment to the Charter of the Organization of American
States "Protocol of Cartagena de Indias", approved on December
5, 1985, at the Fourteenth Special Session of the General Assembly,
by the Protocol of Amendment to the Charter of the
Organization of American States "Protocol of Washington",
approved on December 14, 1992, at the Sixteenth Special Session of the
and by the Protocol of Amendment to the Charter of the
Organization of American States "Protocol of Managua", adopted
on June 10, 1993, at the Nineteenth Special Session of the General
CHARTER OF THE ORGANIZATION
IN THE NAME OF THEIR PEOPLES, THE STATES REPRESENTED AT THE NINTH
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN STATES,
Convinced that the historic mission of America is to offer to man a
land of liberty and a favorable environment for the development of his
personality and the realization of his just aspirations;
Conscious that that mission has already inspired numerous
agreements, whose essential value lies in the desire of the American
peoples to live together in peace and, through their mutual understanding
and respect for the sovereignty of each one, to provide for the betterment
of all, in independence, in equality and under law;
Convinced that representative democracy is an indispensable
condition for the stability, peace and development of the region;
Confident that the true significance of American solidarity and
good neighborliness can only mean the consolidation on this continent,
within the framework of democratic institutions, of a system of individual
liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential rights of
Persuaded that their welfare and their contribution to the progress
and the civilization of the world will increasingly require intensive
Resolved to persevere in the noble undertaking that humanity has
conferred upon the United Nations, whose principles and purposes they
Convinced that juridical organization is a necessary condition for
security and peace founded on moral order and on justice; and
In accordance with Resolution IX of the Inter-American
Conference on Problems of War and Peace, held in Mexico City,
upon the following
CHARTER OF THE ORGANIZATION
NATURE AND PURPOSES
The American States establish by this Charter the international
organization that they have developed to achieve an order of peace and
justice, to promote their solidarity, to strengthen their collaboration,
and to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their
independence. Within the United Nations, the Organization of American
States is a regional agency.
The Organization of American States has no powers other than those
expressly conferred upon it by this Charter, none of whose provisions
authorizes it to intervene in matters that are within the internal
jurisdiction of the Member States.
The Organization of American States, in order to put into practice
the principles on which it is founded and to fulfill 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
To eradicate extreme poverty, which constitutes an obstacle to the
full democratic development of the peoples of the hemisphere; and
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.
The American States reaffirm the following principles:
a) International law is the standard of conduct of States in their
b) International order consists essentially of respect for the
personality, sovereignty, and independence of States, and the faithful
fulfillment of obligations derived from treaties and other sources of
Good faith shall govern the relations between States;
The solidarity of the American States and the high aims which are
sought through it require the political organization of those States on
the basis of the effective exercise of representative democracy;
Every State has the right to choose, without external interference,
its political, economic, and social system and to organize itself in the
way best suited to it, and has the duty to abstain from intervening in the
affairs of another State. Subject
to the foregoing, the American States shall cooperate fully among
themselves, independently of the nature of their political, economic, and
The elimination of extreme poverty is an essential part of the
promotion and consolidation of representative democracy and is the common
and shared responsibility of the American States;
The American States condemn war of aggression:
victory does not give rights;
An act of aggression against one American State is an act of
aggression against all the other American States;
i) Controversies of an international character arising between two or
more American States shall be settled by peaceful procedures;
Social justice and social security are bases of lasting peace;
k) Economic cooperation is essential to the common welfare and
prosperity of the peoples of the continent;
The American States proclaim the fundamental rights of the
individual without distinction as to race, nationality, creed, or sex;
The spiritual unity of the continent is based on respect for the
cultural values of the American countries and requires their close
cooperation for the high purposes of civilization;
The education of peoples should be directed toward justice,
freedom, and peace.
All American States that ratify the present Charter are Members of
Any new political entity that arises from the union of several
Member States and that, as such, ratifies the present Charter, shall
become a Member of the Organization.
The entry of the new political entity into the Organization shall
result in the loss of membership of each one of the States which
Any other independent American State that desires to become a
Member of the Organization should so indicate by means of a note addressed
to the Secretary General, in which it declares that it is willing to sign
and ratify the Charter of the Organization and to accept all the
obligations inherent in membership, especially those relating to
collective security expressly set forth in Articles 28 and 29 of the
The General Assembly, upon the recommendation of the Permanent
Council of the Organization, shall determine whether it is appropriate
that the Secretary General be authorized to permit the applicant State to
sign the Charter and to accept the deposit of the corresponding instrument
of ratification. Both the
recommendation of the Permanent Council and the decision of the General
Assembly shall require the affirmative vote of two thirds of the Member
Membership in the Organization shall be confined to independent
States of the Hemisphere that were Members of the United Nations as of
December 10, 1985, and the nonautonomous territories mentioned in document
OEA/Ser. P, AG/doc.1939/85, of November 5, 1985, when they become
A Member of the Organization whose democratically constituted
government has been overthrown by force may be suspended from the exercise
of the right to participate in the sessions of the General Assembly, the
Meeting of Consultation, the Councils of the Organization and the
Specialized Conferences as well as in the commissions, working groups and
any other bodies established.
The power to suspend shall be exercised only when such diplomatic
initiatives undertaken by the Organization for the purpose of promoting
the restoration of representative democracy in the affected Member State
have been unsuccessful;
The decision to suspend shall be adopted at a special session of
the General Assembly by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Member
The suspension shall take effect immediately following its approval
by the General Assembly;
The suspension notwithstanding, the Organization shall endeavor to
undertake additional diplomatic initiatives to contribute to the
re-establishment of representative democracy in the affected Member State;
The Member which has been subject to suspension shall continue to
fulfill its obligations to the Organization;
The General Assembly may lift the suspension by a decision adopted
with the approval of two-thirds of the Member States;
The powers referred to in this article shall be exercised in
accordance with this Charter.
FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF
States are juridically equal, enjoy equal rights and equal capacity
to exercise these rights, and have equal duties.
The rights of each State depend not upon its power to ensure the
exercise thereof, but upon the mere fact of its existence as a person
under international law.
Every American State has the duty to respect the rights enjoyed by
every other State in accordance with international law.
The fundamental rights of States may not be impaired in any manner
The political existence of the State is independent of recognition
by other States. Even before
being recognized, the State has the right to defend its integrity and
independence, to provide for its preservation and prosperity, and
consequently to organize itself as it sees fit, to legislate concerning
its interests, to administer its services, and to determine the
jurisdiction and competence of its courts.
The exercise of these rights is limited only by the exercise of the
rights of other States in accordance with international law.
Recognition implies that the State granting it accepts the
personality of the new State, with all the rights and duties that
international law prescribes for the two States.
The right of each State to protect itself and to live its own life
does not authorize it to commit unjust acts against another State.
The jurisdiction of States within the limits of their national
territory is exercised equally over all the inhabitants, whether nationals
Each State has the right to develop its cultural, political, and
economic life freely and naturally. In
this free development, the State shall respect the rights of the
individual and the principles of universal morality.
Respect for and the faithful observance of treaties constitute
standards for the development of peaceful relations among States. International treaties and agreements should be public.
No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or
indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs
of any other State. The
foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form
of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State
or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.
No State may use or encourage the use of coercive measures of an
economic or political character in order to force the sovereign will of
another State and obtain from it advantages of any kind.
The territory of a State is inviolable; it may not be the object,
even temporarily, of military occupation or of other measures of force
taken by another State, directly or indirectly, on any grounds whatever. No territorial acquisitions or special advantages obtained
either by force or by other means of coercion shall be recognized.
The American States bind themselves in their international
relations not to have recourse to the use of force, except in the case of
self‑defense in accordance with existing treaties or in fulfillment
Measures adopted for the maintenance of peace and security in
accordance with existing treaties do not constitute a violation of the
principles set forth in Articles 19 and 21.
PACIFIC SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES
International disputes between Member States shall be submitted to
the peaceful procedures set forth in this Charter.
This provision shall not be interpreted as an impairment of the
rights and obligations of the Member States under Articles 34 and 35 of
the Charter of the United Nations.
The following are peaceful procedures:
direct negotiation, good offices, mediation, investigation and
conciliation, judicial settlement, arbitration, and those which the
parties to the dispute may especially agree upon at any time.
In the event that a dispute arises between two or more American
States which, in the opinion of one of them, cannot be settled through the
usual diplomatic channels, the parties shall agree on some other peaceful
procedure that will enable them to reach a solution.
A special treaty will establish adequate means for the settlement
of disputes and will determine pertinent procedures for each peaceful
means such that no dispute between American States may remain without
definitive settlement within a reasonable period of time.
Every act of aggression by a State against the territorial
integrity or the inviolability of the territory or against the sovereignty
or political independence of an American State shall be considered an act
of aggression against the other American States.
If the inviolability or the integrity of the territory or the
sovereignty or political independence of any American State should be
affected by an armed attack or by an act of aggression that is not an
armed attack, or by an extracontinental conflict, or by a conflict between
two or more American States, or by any other fact or situation that might
endanger the peace of America, the American States, in furtherance of the
principles of continental solidarity or collective self‑defense,
shall apply the measures and procedures established in the special
treaties on the subject.
The Member States, inspired by the principles of
inter-American solidarity and cooperation, pledge themselves to a
united effort to ensure international social justice in their relations
and integral development for their peoples, as conditions essential to
peace and security. Integral
development encompasses the economic, social, educational, cultural,
scientific, and technological fields through which the goals that each
country sets for accomplishing it should be achieved.
Inter-American cooperation for integral development is the
common and joint responsibility of the Member States, within the framework
of the democratic principles and the institutions of the
inter-American system. It
should include the economic, social, educational, cultural, scientific,
and technological fields, support the achievement of national objectives
of the Member States, and respect the priorities established by each
country in its development plans, without political ties or conditions.
Inter-American cooperation for integral development should be
continuous and preferably channeled through multilateral organizations,
without prejudice to bilateral cooperation between Member States.
The Member States shall contribute to inter-American
cooperation for integral development in accordance with their resources
and capabilities and in conformity with their laws.
Development is a primary responsibility of each country and should
constitute an integral and continuous process for the establishment of a
more just economic and social order that will make possible and contribute
to the fulfillment of the individual.
The Member States agree that equality of opportunity, the
elimination of extreme poverty, equitable distribution of wealth and
income and the full participation of their peoples in decisions relating
to their own development are, among others, basic objectives of integral
development. To achieve them,
they likewise agree to devote their utmost efforts to accomplishing the
following basic goals:
a) Substantial and self-sustained increase of per capita
b) Equitable distribution of national income;
c) Adequate and equitable systems of taxation;
d) Modernization of rural life and reforms leading to equitable and
efficient land-tenure systems, increased agricultural productivity,
expanded use of land, diversification of production and improved
processing and marketing systems for agricultural products; and the
strengthening and expansion of the means to attain these ends;
e) Accelerated and diversified industrialization, especially of
capital and intermediate goods;
f) Stability of domestic price levels, compatible with sustained
economic development and the attainment of social justice;
Fair wages, employment opportunities, and acceptable working
conditions for all;
Rapid eradication of illiteracy and expansion of educational
opportunities for all;
i) Protection of man's potential through the extension and application
of modern medical science;
Proper nutrition, especially through the acceleration of national
efforts to increase the production and availability of food;
k) Adequate housing for all sectors of the population;
Urban conditions that offer the opportunity for a healthful,
productive, and full life;
m) Promotion of private initiative and investment in harmony with
action in the public sector; and
n) Expansion and diversification of exports.
The Member States should refrain from practicing policies and
adopting actions or measures that have serious adverse effects on the
development of other Member States.
Transnational enterprises and foreign private investment shall be
subject to the legislation of the host countries and to the jurisdiction
of their competent courts and to the international treaties and agreements
to which said countries are parties, and should conform to the development
policies of the recipient countries.
The Member States agree to join together in seeking a solution to
urgent or critical problems that may arise whenever the economic
development or stability of any Member State is seriously affected by
conditions that cannot be remedied through the efforts of that State.
The Member States shall extend among themselves the benefits of
science and technology by encouraging the exchange and utilization of
scientific and technical knowledge in accordance with existing treaties
and national laws.
The Member States, recognizing the close interdependence between
foreign trade and economic and social development, should make individual
and united efforts to bring about the following:
Favorable conditions of access to world markets for the products of
the developing countries of the region, particularly through the reduction
or elimination, by importing countries, of tariff and nontariff barriers that
affect the exports of the Member States of the Organization, except when
such barriers are applied in order to diversify the economic structure, to
speed up the development of the less‑developed Member States, and
intensify their process of economic integration, or when they are related
to national security or to the needs of economic balance;
Continuity in their economic and social development by means of:
Improved conditions for trade in basic commodities through
international agreements, where appropriate; orderly marketing procedures
that avoid the disruption of markets, and other measures designed to
promote the expansion of markets and to obtain dependable incomes for
producers, adequate and dependable supplies for consumers, and stable
prices that are both remunerative to producers and fair to consumers;
Improved international financial cooperation and the adoption of
other means for lessening the adverse impact of sharp fluctuations in
export earnings experienced by the countries exporting basic commodities;
Diversification of exports and expansion of export opportunities
for manufactured and semimanufactured products from the developing
Conditions conducive to increasing the real export earnings of the
Member States, particularly the developing countries of the region, and to
increasing their participation in international trade.
The Member States reaffirm the principle that when the more
developed countries grant concessions in international trade agreements
that lower or eliminate tariffs or other barriers to foreign trade so that
they benefit the less-developed countries, they should not expect
reciprocal concessions from those countries that are incompatible with
their economic development, financial, and trade needs.
The Member States, in order to accelerate their economic
development, regional integration, and the expansion and improvement of
the conditions of their commerce, shall promote improvement and
coordination of transportation and communication in the developing
countries and among the Member States.
The Member States recognize that integration of the developing
countries of the Hemisphere is one of the objectives of the
inter-American system and, therefore, shall orient their efforts and
take the necessary measures to accelerate the integration process, with a
view to establishing a Latin American common market in the shortest
In order to strengthen and accelerate integration in all its
aspects, the Member States agree to give adequate priority to the
preparation and carrying out of multinational projects and to their
financing, as well as to encourage economic and financial institutions of
the inter-American system to continue giving their broadest support
to regional integration institutions and programs.
The Member States agree that technical and financial cooperation
that seeks to promote regional economic integration should be based on the
principle of harmonious, balanced, and efficient development, with
particular attention to the relatively less-developed countries, so
that it may be a decisive factor that will enable them to promote, with
their own efforts, the improved development of their infrastructure
programs, new lines of production, and export diversification.
The Member States, convinced that man can only achieve the full
realization of his aspirations within a just social order, along with
economic development and true peace, agree to dedicate every effort to the
application of the following principles and mechanisms:
All human beings, without distinction as to race, sex, nationality,
creed, or social condition, have a right to material well‑being and
to their spiritual development, under circumstances of liberty, dignity,
equality of opportunity, and economic security;
Work is a right and a social duty, it gives dignity to the one who
performs it, and it should be performed under conditions, including a
system of fair wages, that ensure life, health, and a decent standard of
living for the worker and his family, both during his working years and in
his old age, or when any circumstance deprives him of the possibility of
Employers and workers, both rural and urban, have the right to
associate themselves freely for the defense and promotion of their
interests, including the right to collective bargaining and the workers'
right to strike, and recognition of the juridical personality of
associations and the protection of their freedom and independence, all in
accordance with applicable laws;
Fair and efficient systems and procedures for consultation and
collaboration among the sectors of production, with due regard for
safeguarding the interests of the entire society;
The operation of systems of public administration, banking and
credit, enterprise, and distribution and sales, in such a way, in harmony
with the private sector, as to meet the requirements and interests of the
The incorporation and increasing participation of the marginal
sectors of the population, in both rural and urban areas, in the economic,
social, civic, cultural, and political life of the nation, in order to
achieve the full integration of the national community, acceleration of
the process of social mobility, and the consolidation of the democratic
system. The encouragement of
all efforts of popular promotion and cooperation that have as their
purpose the development and progress of the community;
g) Recognition of the importance of the contribution of organizations
such as labor unions, cooperatives, and cultural, professional, business,
neighborhood, and community associations to the life of the society and to
the development process;
h) Development of an efficient social security policy; and
i) Adequate provision for all persons to have due legal aid in order
to secure their rights.
The Member States recognize that, in order to facilitate the
process of Latin American regional integration, it is necessary to
harmonize the social legislation of the developing countries, especially
in the labor and social security fields, so that the rights of the workers
shall be equally protected, and they agree to make the greatest efforts
possible to achieve this goal.
The Member States will give primary importance within their
development plans to the encouragement of education, science, technology,
and culture, oriented toward the overall improvement of the individual,
and as a foundation for democracy, social justice, and progress.
The Member States will cooperate with one another to meet their
educational needs, to promote scientific research, and to encourage
technological progress for their integral development.
They will consider themselves individually and jointly bound to
preserve and enrich the cultural heritage of the American peoples.
The Member States will exert the greatest efforts, in accordance
with their constitutional processes, to ensure the effective exercise of
the right to education, on the following bases:
a) Elementary education, compulsory for children of school age, shall
also be offered to all others who can benefit from it.
When provided by the State it shall be without charge;
b) Middle-level education shall be extended progressively to as
much of the population as possible, with a view to social improvement.
It shall be diversified in such a way that it meets the development
needs of each country without prejudice to providing a general education;
c) Higher education shall be available to all, provided that, in order
to maintain its high level, the corresponding regulatory or academic
standards are met.
The Member States will give special attention to the eradication of
illiteracy, will strengthen adult and vocational education systems, and
will ensure that the benefits of culture will be available to the entire
population. They will promote
the use of all information media to fulfill these aims.
The Member States will develop science and technology through
educational, research, and technological development activities and
information and dissemination programs.
They will stimulate activities in the field of technology for the
purpose of adapting it to the needs of their integral development.
They will organize their cooperation in these fields efficiently
and will substantially increase exchange of knowledge, in accordance with
national objectives and laws and with treaties in force.
The Member States, with due respect for the individuality of each
of them, agree to promote cultural exchange as an effective means of
consolidating inter-American understanding; and they recognize that
regional integration programs should be strengthened by close ties in the
fields of education, science, and culture.
Signed in Bogotá in 1948 and amended by the Protocol of Buenos Aires in
1967, by the Protocol of Cartagena de Indias in 1985, by the Protocol
of Washington in 1992, and by the Protocol of Managua in 1993.
In force as of September 25, 1997.