Secured Transactions

Capacity Building

The Department of International Law supports the development of secured transactions laws and collateral registries throughout the Americas by enhancing the capacity of OAS Member States to implement legislative reforms and related policies. The Department encourages OAS Member States to work towards the modernization and harmonization of their secured transactions legal frameworks based on the Model Inter-American Law on Secured Transactions and the Model Inter-American Registry Regulations and other international instruments. While a number of OAS Member States have made progress towards secured transactions reforms, a number have limited capacity to do so.


To strengthen capacity within OAS Member States to implement secured transactions reforms, the following three principles underpin our approach:

  • Local ownership. The secured transactions reform activities should be country-driven, designed and implemented with broad-based, local stakeholder “ownership.” In all of our activities, DIL emphasizes the need for local engagement and promotes reliance on local advisors, where possible, and ongoing training of country officials.

  • Long-term planning, priorities, and impact assessment. Legislative reforms should be considered in a wider context, taking into consideration not only integration with other laws, regulations and policies, but also local business practices and financial culture. In that regard, comprehensive desk analysis must be supplemented with in-the-field diagnostics of the access to credit environment from the perspective of a range of stakeholder groups. This serves the dual function of data collection and awareness raising, thereby further strengthening local support for reforms.

  • Institutional architecture. Legislation for secured transactions reform should be supported by the necessary institutional framework, which requires education and training of government officials and the business community, particularly MSMEs, and women-owned businesses. Capacity-building seminars help to provide a learning environment and platform for the development of new lending practices, as well as the creation and strengthening of supportive institutional infrastructure.


The OAS Secured Transactions Project (2012-2015) was made possible with funding from the Government of Canada. Three OAS Member States, El Salvador, Peru and Jamaica, expressed interest in the project to strengthen local capacity for secured transactions reforms and subsequent implementation. These governments appointed local counterparts with which the Department of International Law orchestrated a number of activities that included field studies, training workshops, stakeholder consultations, desk analysis, and regional seminars. For details, see the publications and documentary.


In the course of undertaking secured transactions reforms, it is quite possible to encounter deeply rooted legal traditions and resistance to attempts at modernizing long-standing commercial practices. Moreover, reform of the secured transactions regime will most likely also require reforms of legislation in related areas, such as insolvency and bankruptcy. This requires a coordinated approach to ensure “dialogue” – that the laws speak to each other - and that the overarching rules are consistent and functional.

Such comprehensive reforms require political will, a new attitude towards asset-based lending and a shift in both legal and lending culture. This may also require efforts to re-calibrate public policy choices that govern risk mitigation and financing instruments, such as policies that are frequently within the purview of financial supervisory and regulatory entities. Thus, broad-based stakeholder consultation and engagement from the outset and throughout the reform process is critical to its success. 

International Trade and Competition

On a list of commercial laws, secured transactions law is near the top of that list, as an essential component in creating a favorable business and investment climate. A robust and efficient secured transactions regime promotes confidence among lenders and enables local business to obtain the necessary capital for a quick response to supply constraints and competition in outside markets. Secured transactions reform is therefore instrumental in providing the necessary legal and institutional infrastructure for engaging in cross-border trade and economic development.