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OAS General Secretariat Commemorates 130th Anniversary of Inter-American System

  October 2, 2019

The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (GS/OAS) today commemorated the 130th anniversary of the Inter-American System, the oldest international institutional system in the world.

Exactly 130 years ago, on October 2, 1889, the First American International Conference of American States began in Washington, DC, in which 18 American States participated and began to build what would become the Inter-American System. In that First Conference - a precursor to the current OAS General Assemblies -, the States agreed to establish an International Union of American Republics, which was later transformed into the Pan American Union and then into the Organization of American States (OAS) .

The Inter-American System has been and continues to be a set of international institutions that exist based on principles and not political situations. That is why it has lasted through time, unlike other experiments in regional multilateral organization around the world.

This history of exceptionalism in international relations shows the tendency and natural vocation of the Western Hemisphere for basic principles of peace, cooperation, mutual understanding, integration, and the creation of norms and mechanisms of international law that enforce them in practice. For the Americas, the liberal international order began before the rest of the world, and we have been building and strengthening it on the foundations created in October 1889, shortly after the wars of independence, civil wars and struggles for the construction of the new free states.

The future of the Inter-American System must pay daily tribute to the weight of this history. The pillars of democracy, human rights, development and security will continue to guide the work of the OAS, striving to be close to the needs and suffering of the people in the 35 member states. In particular, it must be on the side of the people who are victims of the dictatorships and the authoritarian regimes, which have no place in the Inter-American System.

After 130 years, the Inter-American System is stronger than ever, more relevant than ever, more involved in the issues that matter to the people than ever and is the greatest symbol of humanist multilateralism in the world.

Reference: E-075/19