11.8.2020 : 12:30 : +0200

General Information | Point of Contact | PoA initiatives & activites | Instruments & documents | Members


Organization of American States (OAS)


Washington, DC, United States

Web site

Short description

The OAS has a broad mandate, with its charter promoting peace and security with an emphasis on representative democracy (with ‘due respect for the principle of non-intervention’).


Some 95 per cent of the regular budget comes from dues from six OAS members: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela (listed from largest to smallest contribution). Washington’s assessment is by far the largest: just under 60 per cent of the total. Voluntary funding for small-arms related projects referenced below comes primarily from the United States and Spain.

The OAS consisted of 21 member states when it was created in 1948: all the independent UN member states from the Western hemisphere except Canada. Fourteen additional countries joined between 1962 and 1991 (with Canada joining in 1990). The OAS suspended Cuba from 1962 to 2009, but Cuba has yet to re-engage in OAS activities. Most recently, Honduras was suspended between July 2009 and June 2011. More than 60 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania participate in OAS activities and contribute to its programmes as permanent observers.


35 members (all UN member states)

  • Current members*: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname, SVG, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela (Bold: founding member, Grey: suspended member)
  • Former members: None
  • Membership pending: None

Overlapping memberships with other ROs

OAS members represent:

  • 5 of 21 APEC members (Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and the United States are APEC members)
  • 4 of 4 CAN members
  • 14 of 15 CARICOM members (Montserrat is not an OAS member)
  • 4 of 4 MERCOSUR members
  • 7 of 7 SICA members
  • 12 of 12 UNASUR members

* Information accurate as of 24 May 2012

PoA Point of Contact

  • Alison August Treppel
  • Technical Secretary, CIFTA, Department of
    Public Security


PoA-related activities

The Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (CIFTA), which OAS member states approved in 1997, is of particular relevance to the PoA. A legally binding treaty that entered into force in 1998, CIFTA seeks to prevent, combat, and eradicate firearms trafficking, as well as promote and facilitate cooperation and the exchange of information in this regard. As of May 2012, 30 OAS members had ratified CIFTA (i.e. all but Canada, Cuba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), and the United States). The OAS has also developed model legislation and regulations to assist member states in the implementation of CIFTA’s various provisions. The Department of Public Security, created in 2005 during a restructuring of the OAS General Secretariat, addresses various security concerns within the region, including firearms trafficking. The department provides technical secretariat services to the CIFTA process and oversees technical assistance initiatives to facilitate the implementation of the convention. In the past five years the department has undertaken a series of projects—all voluntarily funded—to strengthen the national capacity of member states in the areas of legislative development, stockpile management and destruction, and firearms marking. As of May 2012 these OAS initiatives—valued at some USD 3 million—supported activities in 23 OAS member states.

PoA-related programmes and initiatives

PoA-relevant cooperation with other ROs

The OAS POC meets periodically, but not in a scheduled manner, with colleagues from CAN, CARICOM, MERCOSUR, SICA, and UNASUR. The OAS received a formal briefing from RECSA on its lessons learned with regard to firearms marking in preparation for its own similar undertaking.

Legally binding regional instruments

  • Inter-American Convention Against Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (CIFTA) (1997)

Other official documents of interest

  • Declaration of Bogota on the Functioning and Application of CIFTA (2004)
  • Methodology for the Development of Model Legislation for the Purpose of Facilitating the Effective Application of CIFTA (2005)
  • OAS Guidelines on Controls and Security of Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) (2005)
  • Six model regulations, legislation (and commentaries) on: (1) International Movement (2003); (2) Brokers (2003); (3) Marking and Tracing (2007); (4) Export Controls (2008); (5) Illicit Manufacturing (2008); (6) Confiscation and Forfeiture (2010); and (7) Controlled Delivery (2012)
  • Tlatelolco Commitment (2008)


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