oasseal.jpg (2698 bytes)

G E N E R A L      S E C R E T A R I A T




    In exercise of the powers conferred upon him by articles 113 and 115 of the Charter of the Organization of American States, and


    That General Assembly Resolution AG/RES. 492 (X-O/80), "Rationalization of the Publications and Documents of the Organization," adopted standards for the preparation, printing and distribution of OAS documents, and

    That the policy instituted by that resolution reduces the cost of documents by focusing on three fundamental aspects: (a) limiting the length of documents; (b) reducing the number of copies distributed; and (c) achieving economies in translation and reproduction costs through better planning and scheduling,


    That in order to implement the resolution cited above, the norms and procedures contained in this Executive Order shall be applied within the General Secretariat.


    For the purposes of this Executive Order, "documents for OAS deliberative organs" shall be understood as including basic or reference documents, working documents, and official documents prepared for the organs of the Organization as specified in Article 51 of the Charter and for meetings of subsidiary organizations, agencies, and other entities for which the General Secretariat is responsible for providing secretariat services, including the General Assembly; the Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs; the Permanent Council; the Inter-American Economic and Social Council; the Inter-American Council for Education, Science and Culture; the Inter-American Juridical Committee; the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and the Specialized Conferences.

    Excluded from this definition are technical materials produced by the General Secretariat as part of its regular technical activities, which are governed by Executive Order No. 74-2, as amended by Executive Order No. 76-9. Also excluded are reports, manuals, texts for courses, publications for sale, and internal issuances and manuals.


    The following rules shall be observed when preparing, reproducing, translating, distributing, and planning documents.


1. Mandate. A specific mandate from one of the organs of the Organization is required for the preparation of all official documents, as defined in Section B.3, below. Authorization by competent organs to hold a meeting or conference shall constitute a mandate to prepare the required documentation in support of the items on the agenda.

    An exception may be made when the Secretary General or the Assistant Secretary General deems it necessary to prepare documents that have not been mandated by an organ of the Organization.

    When the General Secretariat is requested by a deliberative organ or a permanent mission or delegation to prepare a document at a cost in excess of that provided for in the approved Program-Budget, a cost estimate shall be given to the organ, permanent mission, or delegation making the request, as provided in Chapter III, Section A, of this Executive Order. The bottom of the last page of the document shall show the cost, together with the number of copies printed in each language and the name of the requesting entity.

2. Contents. Only relevant substantive information shall be included in documents. Any material or information that has already appeared in other documents, such as rapporteurs' reports, lists of participants or documents and calendars of sessions, shall not be repeated in the body of a document or in its appendices; a mere reference to these other documents, by title and number, shall be made.

3. Length. Documents shall be as brief as possible. They shall not exceed 16 sheets, and are to be printed on both sides, for a total of 32 single-spaced pages or about 12,000 words. Any document exceeding this limit must be approved by the Secretary General, the Assistant Secretary General, or the Executive or Assistant Secretary within whose area the document has been prepared.

4. Format

a. When appropriate official documents shall include the following elements:

(1) Summary. A summary of the contents of the document, not to exceed half a page in length shall appear on the cover in the same language as the text of the document.

(2) Introduction. Whenever necessary, an introduction may be included, giving in one page or less the background of the topic and citing only the operative part of the resolution or text authorizing the document's preparation.

(3) Conclusions and Recommendations. Conclusions and recommendations resulting from full study of the topic shall be given.

(4) Analysis. The analysis shall explain the conclusions and recommendations and, when necessary, the basis or background on which they are founded shall be included.

b. Final documents shall be uniform in presentation, typed single-space, and printed on both sides of the paper.

c. When statistical tables or other data are necessary, they shall be attached as annexes rather than included in the body of the document.

5. Timing

    Documents shall be prepared and distributed in advance of the meeting for which they are required in accordance with the mandates or rules of procedure governing the appropriate deliberative organ. To ensure compliance, the procedures contained in Chapter III, Section B, of this Executive Order shall be followed.


1. Basic or Reference Documents. Basic or reference documents for a meeting, such as statutes, rules of procedure, and conventions or treaties shall be reproduced in minimum quantity and assembled in binders. These binders shall not be distributed but shall be available to permanent missions and delegations, and other participants for consultation.

2. Discussion Papers. Discussion papers shall be reproduced only for the use of and distribution to the pertinent subcommittees and working groups. Their preparation and distribution shall be the responsibility of the technical secretary of the subcommittee or working group. They shall not have an Official Records Series classification number; instead, a discussion paper identification number shall be provided by the committee secretary and placed, together with the date, in the top right-hand corner of the cover under the notation "Distribution Restricted". These papers shall not be available to the public.

3. Official Documents. Working and other official documents are those published by the General Secretariat for the deliberative organs of the OAS that are classified as part of the Official Records Series. Once it has been determined that a discussion paper shall become an official document, it shall receive a number in accordance with the classification system maintained by the Indexing and Classification Unit of the Columbus Memorial Library for the Official Records Series. Reproduction runs of official documents shall depend on which of the following types of distribution they are to have:

a. Distribution Limited. These documents are not to be available to the public;

b. Distribution General. These documents are for the information of the permanent missions and delegations and the General Secretariat and for use in the General Assembly, the Councils, and other deliberative organs. Reports and draft resolutions approved by committees for presentation to the Councils fall within this category.

The type of distribution, whether limited or general, shall be specifically indicated in the top right-hand corner of the cover.

4. Unscheduled Documents. When a deliberative organ requests the preparation of an unscheduled document, a report on the budgetary implications and on whether there is an installed capacity to prepare and reproduce it shall be made as provided in Chapter III, Section A, of this Executive Order.

5. Copies of current documents for permanent missions and delegations. At least once a year, the Secretariat to the General Assembly, the Meeting of Consultation, the Permanent Council, and Conferences, in consultation with the permanent missions and delegations, shall update their requirements for copies of documents.

6. Working documents for permanent missions and delegations. Working documents shall be distributed to the permanent missions and delegations in advance of the meeting for which they are intended. In addition, a one-time distribution of documents shall be made at the meeting at which they are on the agenda. If the topic is not taken up at that meeting, or if the meeting is canceled, the documents shall not be distributed again.

7. Special requests from permanent missions and delegations. When a permanent mission or delegation requests a noncurrent document it shall be supplied from stock, if available. If it is out of print, the permanent mission or delegation shall be notified of the cost of rerunning it or of providing it through the Microfiche Demand Printing System. If the permanent mission or delegation agrees to assume the cost, the copy or copies will be made and the document delivered with the corresponding invoice, in duplicate. One copy of this invoice shall be signed by the recipient of the document and returned to the Office of the Treasurer, which shall bill the permanent mission or delegation for this service as provided in Chapter III, Section A, of this Executive Order.

8. Copies to other entities and individual. Distribution lists of individuals and institutions, both those paying for documents and those that have agreements with the General Secretariat for the exchange of documents and publications, shall be kept current.


1. Discussion Papers. Discussion papers without classification number shall be translated only upon a specific request from the working group, committee, or Council involved (see Chapter III, Section A, paragraph 5).

2. Final Documents. Final documents and those that have been used by the deliberative organs in the taking of decisions shall be translated into those official languages of the Organization specified in their respective rules of procedure.

3. Meetings Held Away from Headquarters. When meetings are held away from headquarters, sufficient translation and typing services staff shall be assigned to them in order that all documentation may be completed at the meeting site.



1. Comprehensive Oversight. The Assistant Secretary General is hereby assigned responsibility for the over-all policy issues referred to in this Executive Order, including, but not limited to the following:

a. Approving the preparation of nonmandated documents;

b. Reporting to deliberative organs on the program-budget implications of the General Secretariat's preparing documents that have not been scheduled; and

c. Translation and document services.

2. Preparation. Each Executive and Assistant Secretary shall designate a staff member to supervise the preparation of documents in accordance with the provisions of this Executive Order.

3. Reproduction and Distribution. The Department of Material Resources shall be responsible for carrying out and enforcing the provisions of this Executive Order concerned with reproduction, the distribution of copies, and the determination of costs, except when these functions are performed (a) by the technical secretary of a subcommittee or working group; (b) by organizational components of the Assistant Secretary General; or (c) at meetings held away from headquarters.

4. Invoicing and Collecting for Charges. The Office of the Treasurer shall be responsible for invoicing and collecting any charges established by this Executive Order.

5. Translating Working Documents. When a working document is to be translated in accordance with the rules in Chapter II, Section C, of this Executive Order, an OAS Publications and Documents Process Sheet (OAS Form 27) shall be completed and authorized.


1. Plan and Schedule for Preparing Documents. To facilitate the planning and coordination of document preparation and printing schedules, each office responsible for coordinating the technical preparation of documents for approved meetings shall develop an annual plan and schedule, using the Document Preparation Worksheet (OAS Form 596, attached). A copy of this completed form shall be sent to the Secretariat to the General Assembly, the Meeting of Consultation, the Permanent Council, and Conferences, and to the Department of Material Resources before January 31 of each year. Any subsequent major change of plan or schedule shall be reported to those offices so that they can make any necessary scheduling adjustments.

2. Final Text of Document. The area of the General Secretariat responsible for coordinating and/or preparing documentation for a meeting shall deliver the final text of the document to the Secretariat to the General Assembly, the Meeting of Consultation, the Permanent Council, and Conferences, at least eight weeks before the opening of the meeting in order to meet statutory requirements for distribution and allow sufficient time for translation, typing, reproduction and delivery to the site of the meeting, taking into consideration the most economical means.

3. Annotated Agenda. At least six weeks before the opening of a meeting, the office responsible for coordinating and/or preparing documents for the meeting shall prepare and distribute an annotated agenda indicating the status of the documentation required for each agenda item. If any documents are not ready by that time, a marginal note shall give the reason.

4. Use of Marked Copies for Changes in Draft Documents. Drafts prepared for the review and approval of policy-making authorities should use marked copies to spare the reviewer the necessity to reread the entire document. This procedure is described in a Management Circular.

5. Use of Modern Equipment

a. In order to reduce preparation time and costs, maximum use should be made of equipment for word processing, advanced text editing, photo-composition, printing, storing, recording, and reproduction.

b. The office originating documents shall, if possible, prepare the texts on diskettes to facilitate any subsequent revisions that may be necessary, and to avoid retyping for final preparation. The diskette and one copy should be sent to the Documents Unit for classification and processing.


A. This Executive order amends, where applicable, the provisions dealing with documents in Executive Order No. 74-2, as amended by Executive order No. 76-9.

B. This Executive Order supersedes the Assistant Secretary General's memorandum "Guidelines for the Preparation of Documents," dated April 14, 1981.


This Executive Order shall take effect on the date on which it is signed.


Secretary General

Date: November 5, 1982
Original: English

Attachment: 1