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International Law


Juridical Committee

Sec. for Legal Affairs


Organization of American States

Department of International Law
Data Protection

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OAS’ Work on Data Protection

Over the past several years the Organization of American States has been working on the topic of the protection of personal data.


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The OAS’ work has provided valuable input to assist Member States in taking decisions on the harmonization of law, improving regional cooperation and search for substantial elements on the matter.

Some examples of the OAS’ work in this area include:

• Beginning in 1996, the General Assembly requested several studies and documents from the Inter-American Juridical Committee on access to information on one hand, and on data protection on the other.

• The Inter-American Juridical Committee adopted several resolutions on this matter, all in an effort to address the regulation of data protection through potential international instruments as well as at the level of the legislation of some OAS member states, and of the processing of personal data by the private sector.

• The Department of International Law of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs, at the request of the General Assembly, prepared a study to provide a comparative look at the most prevalent systems for data protection, considering international instruments and national legislations on the topic.

• The General Assembly, via resolution AG/RES. 2661, instructed the Department of International Law to prepare a comparative study of different existing legal regimes, policies, and enforcement mechanisms for the protection of personal data, including domestic legislation, regulation, and self-regulation, with a view to exploring the possibility of a regional framework in the area.

• Also, the General Assembly, through the aforementioned resolution, instructed the Inter-American Juridical Committee to present a document of principles of privacy and personal data protection in the Americas, taking into account the documents described in the preceding two paragraphs.

The mandates of the OAS and the General Assembly resolutions have traditionally covered both the right conjunction of Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data. Although these rights are different, there are important points of convergence (some authors mention that there are the two sides of the coin).

In general and in accordance with the Model Inter-American Law on Access to Information, people have the right of access to all information held by the government, with two exceptions contained in Article 40: When it damages protected public interests, and when it damages protected private interests, including personal data protection.

OAS’ Work on Data Protection

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