Within the framework of the Organization of American States (OAS) some extremely useful and significant progress has been made in improving and strengthening legal and judicial cooperation among the states of the Hemisphere. One major success is that efforts in this area have led to real cooperation processes that are ongoing and are intended to be permanent and that in no instance was it therefore a matter of simple, isolated, one-shot, or unconnected actions. The processes initiated in this area have, instead, been consolidated through institutionalization as real mechanisms for legal and judicial cooperation that enable follow-up on progress made, give them continuity, and move forward in establishing new cooperation agreements or measures within the framework of said mechanisms.

Prominent among these legal and judicial cooperation mechanisms is the process of Meetings of Ministers of Justice or Other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA), including working groups and technical meetings operating under their purview.

The proposal to establish, within the framework of the OAS, a hemispheric forum for dealing with issues related to justice and legal and judicial cooperation through the REMJA was introduced to the Organization in 1996. Until that time, unlike other areas, these particular subject areas had no hemispheric forum whatsoever for bringing together ministers and top officials. Not only was this a serious gap but it was a significant and costly weakness, because these are areas that undoubtedly call for joint efforts and coordinated action among states, if they are to be efficient and effective.

The idea of bringing together the Justice Ministers of the Americas found immediate and warm welcome from the OAS member states, with the General Assembly, at its twenty-seventh regular session held in June 1997, deciding to that end to convene and organize the first meeting of those authorities (REMJA I). Thanks to the offer by Argentina, that meeting was held in Buenos Aires, in December 1997.

This first meeting attested to the advisability and importance of continuing to hold these meetings on a regular basis, which was so acknowledged and mandated immediately afterwards by the Heads of State and Government at their Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile, and reiterated at subsequent Summits—in Quebec City, Monterrey, and Mar del Plata.

REMJA meetings have thus been held eight times since the Buenos Aires gathering—in Lima, Peru, in 1999 (REMJA II); in San José, Costa Rica, in 2000 (REMJA III); in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2002 (REMJA IV); at OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., United States, in 2004 (REMJA V); in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 2006 (REMJA VI); in Washington, D.C., United States, in 2008 (REMJA VII); in Brasilia, Brazil, in 2010 (REMJA VIII), and again in Quito, Ecuador, in 2012 (REMJA IX).

The REMJA process has become the foremost hemispheric policy and technical forum for issues related to the strengthening justice and international legal cooperation. So important and far-reaching are its concrete results that they have exceeded expectations articulated at the time the proposal to promote this type of meetings was originally put forward. It is now clear that the OAS member states recognize the benefits and usefulness of this process and how important it is to continue consolidating and strengthening judicial cooperation within its framework.