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OAS Peace Missions

The OAS has vast experience and expertise in conflict resolution and peace efforts. Since its inception, the Organization has been continuously called upon by its member states in times of crisis and has deployed dozens of peace missions of a different nature, ranging from short-term ad hoc and good offices assignments to longer term demobilization, disarmament and peace building missions.

The International Commission for Support and Verification (CIAV) – Nicaragua (1990 – 1997)

The International Commission for Support and Verification (CIAV) is the only peace mission in the Western Hemisphere that was almost exclusively managed by the Organization of American States. Between 1990 and 1997, CIAV demobilized 22,500 fighters and repatriated 18,000 Nicaraguans from Honduras and Costa Rica. It distributed food, clothing and tools to approximately 120,000 people, monitored the security rights and guarantees that had been given to the former Nicaraguan Resistance combatants, administered reintegration programs, and provided medical assistance to the disabled. Later, CIAV also mediated between the Government and the Roman Catholic Church in a commission to investigate human rights violations. Ultimately, CIAV assisted in the strengthening of Nicaraguan Government and grassroots institutions in local government, conflict mediation, and human rights. During most of its life, CIAV was entirely composed of civilians, and because of this it proved to be highly cost-effective. All in all, CIAV was a seamless mission, which helped regain the credibility of the OAS in offering good offices in the area of peaceful conflict resolution and as the lead agency in the settlement of a variety of disputes.

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Special Mission in Suriname (1992 - 2000)

In July 1992, the government of the Republic of Suriname and the General Secretariat of the OAS signed an agreement establishing the Special Mission in Suriname. Its mandate was to assist the government in formalizing and safeguarding a durable peace, and in strengthening national institutions and democratic order. The Special Mission was more than a simple tool to design and execute projects in the areas of promoting peace and democracy. It was directly involved in the negotiations that brought peace, and offered legal assistance to amnesty efforts. It was the OAS Special Mission whom the illegally armed groups trusted to hand in their weapons to; it was the Mission that coordinated and assisted in the demining operations and in the identification and reinsertion of former combatants into society. Moreover, it was its purpose as well to establish an international presence in the country and serve as a deterrent to those who might attempt again to disrupt democracy. After over eight years of intense activity in both the interior and the coastal zone, the work of the OAS Special Mission in Suriname helped the country achieve the democratic maturity needed to face its challenges within a constitutional framework and internationally agreed upon democratic principles.

Haiti – The International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) (1993 – 2000) and the Special Mission for Strengthening Democracy in Haiti (2002-2006)

The OAS has continuously supported Haiti in its efforts to achieve a full-fledged and stable democracy, and durable peace. Following the coup d’état of 1991, when the Haitian military ousted democratically elected President Aristide, a joint OAS-UN Mission - the International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) - was established in February 1993, at the request of the legitimate Government, to monitor the observance of human rights in Haiti. After the return to constitutional order, the Mission’s mandate was expanded to include the promotion of human rights and institution building. MICIVIH was unique in that it was the first joint, fully integrated field-mission between the OAS and the UN, with its director and deputy director jointly designated by both organizations and equal number of staff members provided by each organization. On December 17, 2001, an attempt of coup d’état triggered a deep political crisis marked by violence, electoral difficulties, serious breaches of the rule of law, and a lack of agreement among the domestic political actors. In 2002 the OAS deployed a Special Mission for the Strengthening of Democracy in Haiti, with the mandate to support the government and people of Haiti in strengthening the country’s democratic institutions, specifically in the areas of security, justice, human rights, democratic development, governance and institutional development, as well as to conduct an independent investigation into the violent events of December 17, 2001. In 2007 the activities of the Special Mission were incorporated into the OAS Country Office.

Special Program to Support Guatemala (1996-2003)

In 1996 the Organization launched the Special Program to Support Guatemala with the overarching goal of assisting the country in its path towards a consolidated democracy and peace. The program lasted 7 years and adapted itself to the dynamics of the implementation of the historic peace accords of December 1996, which put an end to 36 years of civil war. This wide-ranging program focused on promoting a culture of dialogue, reinserting former combatants, supporting the demining process, providing legal assistance to the National Congress, strengthening the democratic institutions and providing electoral assistance.

A crucial component in the Guatemalan peace process was the reinsertion of the demobilized members of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit. Capitalizing on the demobilization and reintegration experience gained in the CIAV-OAS peace mission in Nicaragua (1990-1997), the OAS led an extremely successful reinsertion project. From 1996 to 1998, it reinserted, alphabetized and trained over 3000 former combatants between the ages of 15 and 22, from 132 communities.

Another highly successful project of the Special Program to Support Guatemala was the Culture of Dialogue: Development of Resources for Peacebuilding in Guatemala, more commonly known as PROPAZ-OAS. This conflict prevention and management program helped Guatemalans address ongoing social and political tensions by providing them with training on negotiation, mediation and conflict resolution skills.

Honduras and Nicaragua (1999 – 2007)

n December 1999, at the request of the governments of Honduras and Nicaragua, the OAS Permanent Council convened a special session to address tensions that had arisen due to a maritime boundary dispute. The Permanent Council called on the Secretary General to name a special representative to “evaluate the situation, facilitate dialogue, and formulate recommendations aimed at easing tension and preventing acts that could affect peace in the hemisphere”. See the Resolution

On October 8, 2007, the International Court of Justice made a ruling in this case, which was accepted by both countries, putting an end to this long-time dispute.

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Belize and Guatemala (2000 –Present)

In March 2000, the governments of Belize and Guatemala restarted talks on their longstanding territorial differendum, under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States. On November 8, 2000, Belize and Guatemala signed the first Agreement on Confidence Building Measures, through which the two parties agreed to respect an “Adjacency Line” between each country and an "Adjacency Zone" extending one kilometer east and west from this line. On February 7, 2003, the Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala signed a second Agreement to Establish a Transition Process and Confidence-Building Measures, which was later amended in September 2005 through "Agreement on a Framework for Negotiations and Confidence-Building Measures between Belize and Guatemala”. Central to the second agreement was the establishment of the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone for the purpose of fostering community-to-community contacts across the Adjacency Line and verifying any transgression of the established confidence-building measures and any incidents which may occur in that Zone. The Agreement also called for the establishment of a Group of Friends of the Belize-Guatemala Transition Process (the “Group of Friends”), consisting of OAS Member and Observer States, and others interested in supporting a peaceful resolution to the territorial differendum. The Group of Friends acts as an advisory body to the Secretary General and provides political and operational support for undertaking the various activities contemplated under the agreement on confidence-building measures in force.

Following signature of the 2005 Agreement, two ministerial meetings took place. At the second such meeting, in February 2006, the Secretary General proposed that the negotiation process concerning the territorial differendum begin with the maritime zone. For this aspect of the differendum, the Government of Honduras was invited to participate. A Negotiating Group was formed, which met on several occasions at both the ministerial and technical level, coordinated and facilitated by the Secretary General’s Special Representative. Unfortunately, after almost two years of negotiations, in which a certain degree of rapprochement was achieved, the Parties failed to reach an agreement. The Secretary General therefore recommended that the most appropriate venue for resolving the differendum would be the International Court of Justice. Both countries assented and on December 8, 2008, the Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala signed, at OAS headquarters, the “Special Agreement between Guatemala and Belize to submit the territorial, insular and maritime claim of Guatemala to the International Court of Justice.

On April 27, 2012, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize and Guatemala met with the OAS Secretary General in Washington, D.C., and agreed that the simultaneous referenda to submit Guatemala’s claim to the International Court of Justice would be held on Sunday, October 6, 2013. On that occasion, both governments requested the support of the General Secretariat for the education and sensitization campaigns that will be launched to inform the people of both Belize and Guatemala about the up coming differendum process as well as the advantages of submitting the dispute to the ICJ and the disadvantage if it is not submitted.

The final decision to take the case to the ICJ must be confirmed through national referenda in both countries. Following a failed attempt at holding the referenda in 2013, the countries agreed to create the appropriate conditions so that a new date for holding the referenda could be fixed. To this end, on January 24th, 2014, the Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala, together with the Secretary General of the OAS, signed the Roadmap Agreement for Strengthening Bilateral Relations and established the Belize- Guatemala Joint Commission to explore and develop projects and programs between the two countries, with the goal of strengthening the ties of friendship and cooperation between them. The objective of the Road Map was to disengage the issue of the differendum from the urgent need to consolidate the bilateral relationship for the sake of regional cooperation and integration. Under this framework, sixteen bilateral agreements (thirteen formal and three informal) were negotiated and dozens of bilateral meetings among different sectors of society took place. This was a historic step that was accomplished within less than 12 months, which culminated in December 2014. For the first time in history, Belize and Guatemala sat down to normalize their good neighborly relations by formalizing how they will work together in the future on a vast number of issues of common interest and concern. The success of these efforts was key to continue to move the process forward. As a result, on May 25, 2015 the Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala signed the Protocol to the Special Agreement with the OAS Secretary General as witness. This Protocol enables Belize and Guatemala to hold the referenda either simultaneously or separately on the date that is more convenient to each of the Parties.

Thanks to the support of the OAS through the Peace Fund, Belize and Guatemala are closer than ever to finding a permanent solution to their centuries-old conflict.

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Facilitation Mission to Venezuela (2002 – 2004)

In April 2002, the OAS Secretary General led a mission to Venezuela to investigate the alteration of the constitutional order and acts of violence which resulted in the loss of human lives. In a climate of confrontation and extreme political polarization, the OAS, together with the Carter Center and the United Nations Development Program, facilitated a national dialogue to promote a peaceful resolution to the political crisis. The negotiations between the Government and the opposition groups culminated in August 2003 with the signing of the “Agreement of the Forum for Negotiation and Agreement” which proposed a constitutional solution through an electoral process. The OAS offered its technical assistance and in 2004 sent an Electoral Observation Mission for the Presidential Revocatory Referendum, which took place in a peaceful and orderly manner.

El Salvador and Honduras (2003-2004)

In September 2002, the President of El Salvador, Francisco Flores, and the President of Honduras, Ricardo Maduro, undertook to complete the demarcation of the border between their two countries within 18 months.

Between July 2003 and August 2004, the OAS and the Institute carried out a series of on-site observations, based on the text of the 1992 Court judgment, on documents provided by the Special Honduras-El Salvador Demarcation Commission, on satellite imagery, and on other technical tools, and a definitive solution respected by both countries was reached and the full demarcation of the border completed.

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On January 23, 2004, the Government of Colombia and the OAS Secretary General signed an agreement to establish a Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPP/OAS), which included the verification and monitoring of the cease-fire and cessation of hostilities, demobilization, disarmament and reintegration initiatives, and the accompaniment to the communities victims of violence. The mandate of the Mission was formulated in broad terms, under the principles of autonomy, neutrality, and flexibility, allowing it to work on different areas that contribute to peace-building in Colombia, including: the verification of the peace process; support to the initiatives undertaken by the government, civil society and other entities; verification of the handover, custody and destruction of the weapons turned over by the illegal armed groups; and support to local initiatives in conflict areas, through measures and actions aimed at reducing violence, building trust, promoting reconciliation, and strengthening democracy, through specific MAPP/OEA projects in those communities. In 2009 the mandate of MAPP/OAS was renewed and extended until 2011.

Political Missions (2005)

In May 2005, a few days before the election of Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, the Permanent Council had to issue a statement on the power dispute in Ecuador, which had seen the President removed from office. A few weeks later, during the OAS General Assembly, the resignation of Bolivia’s President was announced, and the Secretary General was asked to take urgent action to defuse a conflict in Nicaragua that threatened to upset the institutional order. At the same time, there were serious delays in the electoral process in Haiti, including voter registration, a direct responsibility of the OAS. The openness, receptivity and collaboration of the governments and stakeholders were essential in allowing the Organization to support and facilitate the political accords needed to overcome these complex circumstances. Experience in Bolivia, Ecuador, Haiti and Nicaragua showed that the OAS played a decisive role in resolving the political and institutional crises in those countries, and took an active part in overcoming various situations that threatened democratic stability.

International Forensic Commission (2007)

In July, 2007, the OAS established an international forensic commission to assist with the investigation into the death of eleven Colombian lawmakers from the Valle del Cauca region who had been kidnapped and imprisoned by the illegal armed group FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). The commission was formed along established guidelines of the Colombian government, and was headed by a forensic doctor from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), together with forensic doctors from France, Spain, and Switzerland to ensure that the highest professional standards were applied. Likewise, the International Committee of the Red Cross was asked to appoint a representative to the commission. The commission was unanimous in reaching its conclusions. The identity of all the deceased was established by using a number of recognized methods. The conclusion reached was that all of the deaths were a result of multiple gun shot wounds and that, in some cases, different types of bullets and bullet fragments were found. Therefore the cause of death in each case was multiple gun shot wounds and the manner of death was homicide. The conclusions of the report were presented to the Permanent Council of the OAS on September 18, 2007. It should be noted that it is not the first time that the OAS and PAHO work together on issues affecting the region. However, it is important to highlight the ongoing coordination between the two organizations which allows international agencies and friendly countries to promote principles of solidarity and action with the goal of achieving collective objectives in the hemisphere. The role of the OAS as the engine that pushed for the establishment of this commission reflects the trust that the member States have placed on the Organization to respond to their needs in a quick and effective manner.

Mission of Good Offices in Ecuador and Colombia (2008 - Present)

The most recent inter-State crisis that this Hemisphere has witnessed was the conflict between Ecuador and Colombia in March, 2008 when Colombian armed forces and police officers entered Ecuadoran territory to launch an attack against members of the illegally armed group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) who were hiding in a camp located on the Ecuadoran border. As a result, diplomatic relations between both countries were broken, and the OAS had to intervene to diffuse the rising tension. To date, the OAS continues to support the efforts of both countries to restore trust and forward-looking relations through the Mission of Good Offices in Colombia and Ecuador, which has as its main purpose the follow-up and verification of commitments assumed and agreements reached by the two countries for cooperation on border issues and other matters of common interest, for the strengthening of border mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation, and for the study of a possible bilateral early-warning system.

Good Offices Mission in Honduras (2009 – Present)

On June 28, 2009, a coup d'état was staged against the constitutionally established Government of Honduras, and President José Manuel Zelaya was arbitrarily detained and forcibly sent into exile. The OAS General Assembly convened a special session that condemned the events as a coup d’état, which produced an unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order, and demanded President Zelaya’s immediate, safe, and unconditional return to his constitutional functions. The Honduran state was also suspended from the exercise of its right to participate in the OAS, in accordance with Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. To date, the OAS continues to exert diplomatic efforts for the full restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Honduras, through the High-Level Commission created by the OAS General Assembly in June 2010, in view of the need by member States of more information on the current status of the political process in Honduras and to analyze the evolution of the situation.

Resolution and Reports:

Presented pursuant to resolution AG/RES. 2531 (XL-O/10)







Learn more: The OAS Commitment to Honduras

Special Mission to Ecuador (2010)

On September 30, 2010, following a police uprising and a subsequent attempt at a coup d’Etat in Ecuador, the OAS Permanent Council convened in an emergency session and adopted a resolution to repudiate the actions and express its firm support for the constitutional government of President Rafael Correa. The Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, immediately traveled to Ecuador to support President Correa and inform him about the Organization’s determination to demand the observation of the principles and norms enshrined in the Democratic Charter.

Good Offices Mission to Costa Rica and Nicaragua (2010)

Following a border issue between Costa Rica and Nicaragua over Calero Island in the San Juan River, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States met in an emergency session on November 3, 2010 at the request of the Government of Costa Rica. Both countries expressed their desire to resolve the dispute swiftly and pacifically and invited the Secretary General to lead a Mission to the disputed area and report back to the Permanent Council on November 9, 2010 with its findings. During his trip from November 5-8, 2010, OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza met with the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, and Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, as well as with their respective Foreign Ministers, René Castro and Samuel Santos, and other authorities.

Secretary Insulza also flew over both sides of the area involved. On November 9, Secretary Insulza presented before the Permanent Council of the Organization his report on the visit conducted, which includes four recommendations on possible points of agreement between the two parties: 1) to hold a meeting of the Binational Committee foreseen for November 27; 2) to immediately renew conversations on the demarcation of the border; 3) to avoid the presence of the armed or security forces in the area; and 4) to instruct the pertinent authorities to review the mechanisms of bilateral cooperation to combat drug trafficking, organized crime and arms trafficking in the border area. On November 12, a Special Meeting of the Permanent Council was convened to discuss the adoption of a Resolution based on the four recommendations made by the Secretary General to the Permanent Council. Following an extended debate, CP/RES. 978 (1777/10) was put to vote, and passed with 21 votes for the Resolution, 1 against and 3 abstentions.

On November 18, the Permanent Council met again to discuss a Resolution which would refer the border issue to a Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of American States. Costa Rica was exercising its right as stipulated in the Charter of the Organization of American States (1948), Chapter X, Articles 61-65. Following debate in the Permanent Council, a vote was taken in which 22 countries voted in favor of Costa Rica's Resolution, 1 against whilst 7 abstained. On December 7, 2010, at the Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of American States (OAS), the delegations of the Member States approved Resolution RC.26/RES. 1/10 on the situation between Costa Rica and Nicaragua with 24 votes in favor, two votes against and five abstentions, whereby they called upon the parties to implement, simultaneously and without delay, the recommendations adopted through resolution CP/RES. 978 (1777/10), "Situation in the Border Area between Costa Rica and Nicaragua," of November 12, 2010.

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