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3.1 The Inter-American Treaties and their Subject Matter (Graph 1)
3.2 The Inter-American Treaties Over Time (Graphs 2) (Graph 3)
3.3 Combined Signatures and Ratifications of the Inter-American Treaties (Graph 4)
3.4 Entry into Force of the Inter-American Treaties (Graphs 5) (Graph 6)


4.1 Inter-American Treaties Classified by Subject
4.2 Number of Inter-American Treaties Signed Annually in the OAS Framework
4.3 Inter-American Treaties Classified by Year and Subject Matter
4.4 Inter-American Treaties General Status of Signatures and Ratifications
4.5 Inter-American Treaties Signed and Fully Enforceable Classified by Year
4.6 Inter-American Treaties Signed and Fully Enforceable Classified by Subject Matter
4.7 Number of Ratifications Necessary for the Treaties Adopted within the Inter-American and Currently Not in Force to Enter into Force.




From the very creation of this Organization, the Member States of the Organization of American States(OAS) have attached great importance to the development and codification of international law in the Americas.

Accordingly, in the Declaration of Panama on the Inter-American Contribution to the Development and Codification of International Law, adopted at the OAS General Assembly in 1996, they underscored the need to promote codification as a suitable way to strengthen relations of peace and solidarity among the states of the Americas, with full respect for their sovereignty and the principle of nonintervention.

The codification work that the states decide to promote is much easier if there is a clear idea of the historic development of Inter-American treaties, of the subject matters for which those laws are created and codified, of the status of signature and ratification of these legal instruments and their entry into force.

This document is not so much an attempt to arrive at some conclusions as it is a tool that the countries can use to determine the type of actions, especially in the area of juridical cooperation, that they want to undertake to develop and enhance the Inter-American system.

By means of graphs and comparative charts, the document illustrates the principal subjects that efforts to codify Inter-American law have targeted, what those efforts have produced over the years, the signature and ratification of the legal instruments that make up this system and their entry into force.



This study concerns the Inter-American treaties signed within the framework of the Organization of American States since the time it was established and for which the General Secretariat is depository.

Given its importance, the one exception to this rule is the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), signed at the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Continental Peace and Security in Rio de Janeiro in September 1947, which is also included in this document.

This document uses the definition of a treaty given in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, of 1969, Article 1(a) of which stipulates that: "treaty" means an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation.

The 66 Inter-American treaties signed within the OAS framework between 1948 and 1999 and the 1947 Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance have been classified into 18 topic areas. This classification and the subdivision made within each topic area are not rigorous; nor is it the traditional division of international law into private international law and public international law.

As for the countries included, this study concerns only those that are members of the Organization, although in some instances Inter-American treaties have also been signed by nonmember countries, as in the case of the Inter-American on Proof of and Information on Foreign Law and the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory, which were signed by Spain, and the Agreement Establishing the Inter-American Development Bank, which was signed by 17 countries that are not members of the OAS.

This document is composed of the graphs and comparative charts mentioned below, which are an attempt to facilitate the analysis of the Inter-American treaties from several angles. Whenever possible, each one is in the alphabetical order of the topical classification shown in Appendix I.

Graph I is the classification of Inter-American treaties by subject matter, whereas Graph II shows the number of those legal instruments signed each year for the duration of the period covered in the study (1947 to 1999).

Graph III expands upon this theme, as it is a combination of the total number of treaties signed each year and the topic areas to which each one pertains.

Graph IV contains two types of comparison. The first concerns the overall number of signatures, as opposed to the overall number of ratifications for the 66 treaties approved to date. The second takes that combined figure and compares it to the number of signatures and ratifications there would have been within the Inter-American system had all member states signed and ratified all those legal instruments.

Graph V compares the total number of treaties signed each year with those that are in force as of the present. There are four treaties which enter into force in each country on the date that the country deposits its instrument of ratification . For purposes of this study, the date that the first country ratified one of these treaties will be used as the date that the treaty entered into force.

Graph VI makes the same comparison as Graph V, but with the treaties classified by subject matter rather than by year.

Graph VII highlights the 11 treaties adopted in the OAS Framework which have not yet come into force. It includes a comparision of the number of ratifications necessary for these treaties to enter into force with the number of ratifications that each treaty has to the date of this study.

Finally, two appendices have been included. The first illustrates the classification system used to classify the 66 Inter-American treaties by topic and subtopic. The second chart shows the status of signature and ratification of the Inter-American treaties, by country. This comparative chart preserves the same topical classification of the Inter-American treaties, showing each treaty and country individually. It includes the date of signature and ratification, as the case may be, for each member state and also indicates the treaties that are already in force.


3.1 The Inter-American Treaties and Their Subject Matter (Graph 1)

  Reviewing the history of the codification of Inter-American law, one can distinguish what the priority issues for the member states have been from the number of treaties they have adopted on those subjects within the framework of the OAS.

Graph 1 shows that the subject matters on which the most treaties have been approved are human rights, judicial cooperation and private international law. The treaties on these issues account for 52% of the total number of treaties approved between 1947 and 1999.

  In order of numerical importance, the issues that have been codified within the inter-American system are the following: human rights (19.7%); judicial cooperation (18.2%); private international law (13.6%); the constitution and structure of the Organization of American States (9.1%); the regional institutional system (6.1%); amateur radio service (4.5%); international transit and transportation (4.5%); arbitration and conflict resolution (3%); asylum (3%); reciprocal assistance (3%); hemispheric security (3%); corruption (1.5%); economic development (1.5%); culture (1.5%); civil strife (1.5%); historical and archeological heritage (1.5%), terrorism (1.5%) and weapons (3%).

3.2 The Inter-American Treaties Across Time  (Graph 2)   (Graph 3)

  While this study spans a period of nearly fifty years, Graph 2 shows that most of the inter-American treaties signed within the framework of the OAS have been approved since 1975.

The Organization's activity in the area of law increased starting that year. In the period from 1947 to 1974, a total of 18 conventions were approved, whereas 48 were approved in the period from 1975 to 1999.

  The study also shows that apart from 1947, the years in which the highest number of Inter-American treaties were approved were also the years when the Inter-American Specialized Conferences on Private International Law (CIDIPs) were held, which were 1975, 1979, 1984, 1989 and 1994, as shown in Graph 2.

  Of the 66 treaties approved within the OAS framework, 24 (36.4%) were approved at the CIDIPs, which suggests that the Inter-American Specialized Conferences are an effective vehicle for codifying Inter-American law, the tangible results of which are clearly in evidence in the number and importance of the conventions approved.

   The 1970s was the most prolific decade in terms of the number of Inter-American treaties signed (28.8%), followed by the 1990s (24.2%), the 1980s (19.7%), the 1940s (10.6%), the 1950s (10.6%) and the 1960s (4.5%).

  In the last 15 years, at least one convention has been approved each year within the framework of the OAS, the only exceptions being 1986 and 1998.

  Graph 3 shows that in the last ten years (1989-1999), the Organization's juridical work has focused on human rights, judicial cooperation, weapons and the structure and immunities of the OAS.

  Of the 20 treaties approved between 1989 and 1999, 70% concern these four issues, whereas the remaining 30% are about the following: international transit and transportation (5%); reciprocal assistance (5%); the regional institutional system (5%); contracts (5%) corruption (5%) and the regulation of amateur radio service (5%).

  As Graph 3 shows, it is possible to identify periods in which the focus of inter-American legal prouction has concentrated on specific themes :

- Two of the three existing Inter-American treaties concerning women were signed in 1948;

- Of the three treaties approved in 1954, two had to do with the subject of asylum;

- Seven of the nine Inter-American treaties on private international law were approved between 1975 and 1979;

- Nine of the twelve treaties on the subject of judicial cooperation were approved between 1975 and 1984, while the remaining three were approved in 1992 and 1993;

- Three of the four Inter-American treaties relating to the protection of minors were approved between 1984 and 1989;

- Between 1987 and 1988, two of the three treaties concerning the amateur radio service were approved.

3.3 Combined Signatures and Ratifications of the Inter-American Treaties       (Graph 4)

  As Graph 4 illustrates, the Inter-American treaties included in this study bear a total of 1131 signatures and have 749 ratifications, which is a 34% differential between the number of signatures and the number of ratifications.

  Graph 4 also shows how many signatures and ratifications there would be within the Inter-American system had all member countries signed and ratified all treaties and those that exist thus far.

As mentioned in an earlier paragraph, at the present time, taken together, the Inter-American treaties have 1131 signatures. If all the member countries were to sign each one of those treaties, the overall number of signatures would be 2244. Correspondingly, while the current number of ratifications is 749, if all the member states were to ratify all the treaties, the total figure would be 2244.

3.4 Entry Into Force of the Inter-American Treaties    (Graph 5)    (Graph 6) (Graph 7)

  As graphs 5 and 6 show, of the 66 Inter-American treaties that this study covers, 11 have not yet entered into force. These treaties are shown in Graph 7 and are named below:

- Inter-American Convetion on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisitions, 1999;

- Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities, 1999;

- Optional Protocol related to the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, 1993;

- Inter-American Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods by Road, 1989;

- Amendment to Article 7 of the Inter-American Amateur Radio Service Convention (Lima Convention), 1988;

- Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (Protocol of San Salvador), 1988;

- Inter-American Convention on Jurisdiction in the International Sphere for the Extraterritorial Validity of Foreign Judgments, 1984;

- Agreement on the Adoption of the Inter-American Manual on Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (Convention of Caracas), 1979;

- Protocol of Amendment to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, 1975;

- Protocol of Amendment to the Convention on the Inter-American Institute of Agricultural Sciences, 1958; and

- Economic Agreement of Bogota, 1948.

  The above-mentioned treaties concern the following: human rights (2), international transit and transportation (2), judicial cooperation (1), economic development (1), the regional institutional system (1), amateur radio service (1), hemispheric security (1) and weapons (1) and mutual assistance (1).

  The study also found that 1.5% of the Inter-American treaties entered into force seventeen and one-half years after their adoption; 15.2% entered into force from 4 to 10 years after their adoption; 63.6% entered into force anywhere from 7 months to 3 years of their adoption, while 3% entered into force between 7 and 30 days of the date on which they were adopted.

  The Inter-American treaty that entered into force in the shortest time was the Additional Protocol to the Pan American Sanitary Code (7 days), while the one that took the longest to enter into force was the Inter-American Convention to Facilitate International Waterborne Transportation (seventeen and a half years).

  It should be added that in recent years, and in keeping with the practice followed since the first CIDIP back in 1975, the mechanism whereby Inter-American treaties enter into force has been eased. While in the past a minimum of eleven ratifications were required for a treaty to enter into force, since 1975 only two signatory countries need ratify a treaty for it to enter into force.

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