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OAS Peace Missions Map

The Organization of American States 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 varied nature, ranging from short-term ad hoc assignments to longer term demobilization, disarmament and peace building missions.

Below you will find a compact version of these Missions.

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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.

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.

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.

Honduras and Nicaragua (1999 - 2007)

In 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”.

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.

MAPP/OAS (2004 – present)

On January 23rd, 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 that fell victims to violence. The mandate of the Mission was formulated in broad terms, under the principles of autonomy, neutrality, and flexibility, allowing it to work in 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/OAS projects in those communities. In 2014, in response to a specific petition of the President of Colombia to the Organization of American States, the mandate of MAPP/OAS was renewed and extended for no less than three years.

Haiti – The International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) (1993 – 2000)

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.

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 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 Zone" extending one kilometer east and west from the border, denominated the “Adjacency 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. Central to this 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 OAS. 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 Belize and Guatemala to submit the territorial, insular and maritime claim of Guatemala to the International Court of Justice.” The final decision to take the case to the ICJ must be confirmed through national referenda in both countries.

In January 2014, after a failed attempt to hold consultations, the governments of Belize and Guatemala decided to disengage the issue of the territorial dispute from the urgent need to consolidate the bilateral relationship for the sake of regional integration and cooperation. The result was the adoption of a Road Map Agreement and Plan of Action on January 24, 2014, which called for the promotion of programs and activities aimed at enhancing cooperation in key action areas, with the goal of generating a climate of confidence conducive to setting a new date to hold out the referendum.

May, 2015, the Foreign Ministers decided to adopt a Protocol to the Special Agreement to enable the countries to hold their referendum either simultaneously (as originally stipulated in the Special Agreement) or separately, at the earliest convenience.

The Belize-Guatemala mediation process under OAS auspices has been highly successful when considering that the dispute spans more than one hundred and fifty years. Since the year 2000, much progress has been achieved, including, as stated above, three confidence-building agreements; the Special Agreement to submit the dispute to the ICJ, more than a dozen bilateral agreements and not one single confrontation between the armed and security forces of both countries. The key to the positive results at the political level has been a direct consequence of the accomplishments on the ground. Specifically, the success of the OAS lies in what did not happen, what is not known and what is not seen; in other words, in all the incidents that were prevented, which enabled the political-diplomatic process to move forward.

Mission of Good Offices in Ecuador and Colombia (2008 - 2010)

One of the most notorious inter-State crises 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. The OAS supported the efforts of both countries to restore trust and forward-looking relations through the Mission of Good Offices in Colombia and Ecuador, which had 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. The Mission came to a conclusion when diplomatic relations between both countries were fully restored in 2010.

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.

International Forensic Commission Colombia (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.

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.

Mediation of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam case, Guatemala (2006 – Present)

The construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam in Guatemala from 1976 to 1982, in a context of a military dictatorship, violent internal conflicts and massive human rights violations in the country, had a profoundly negative impact on the communities affected by the project, creating serious tensions and confrontations between the populations settled in the area and the Guatemalan authorities.

After various attempts at initiating a negotiation process, on September 18, 2006, the Government of Guatemala and the Coordinating Committee of Communities Affected by the Construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam (COCAHICH) signed a political agreement which established the framework for the negotiation of the identification, verification and reparation of the damages and losses caused by the construction of the dam in the Chixoy River. This Agreement provided for the creation of a Political Table for Dialogue and Negotiation comprised of representatives from the Government and the COCAHICH, a group of observers, including representatives from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, the institutions that had funded the Project, as well as from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman, and with the participation of the OAS as procedural mediator. The OAS was also responsible for the rapporteurship and the systematization of the commitments achieved as well as for convening the sessions of the Table. On April 20, 2010, the Government and COCAHICH concluded by consensus a Reparations Plan.

On October 14, 2014, President Otto Perez and the Coordinating Committee of Communities Affected by the Construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam in Guatemala (COCAHICH) reached an agreement on the implementation of the content of the 2010 Reparations Plan for communities affected by the Chixoy Dam. More than $154.5 million (USD) in individual compensation, social infrastructure, and economic development projects for communities affected by the dam will be funded. On October 15, 2015, the Vice-president of Guatemala, Juan Alfonso Fuentes Soria, deposited the first reparation payment of 85 thousand quetzals (the approximate equivalent to US$11.110), that will be distributed among 250 families in Rabinal and Baja Verapaz.

Each year for the next 15 years, Chixoy Reparation will be a line item in the national budget, with the allocation of funds achieved through a negotiation involving representatives of the affected communities, the Presidential Commission on Human Rights (COPREDEH), and Guatemala’s congress.

OAS Special Mission to the Venezuelan – Colombian border (2015)

On August 19th 2015, Venezuela closed its border with Colombia in the bordering state of Táchira. It continued closing its borders in more states during the month of September. This was in response to an alleged presence of Colombian paramilitary forces in Venezuelan territory, and the continued traffic and violence in the area. After a visit from the Secretary General of the OAS to the Venezuelan - Colombian border zone to assess the situation of displaced persons after the closing of the border, the OAS implemented a program to attend towards the people in the most vulnerable situation. In its first phase, the OAS opened up a Pop-up school equipped with 25 laptops that benefited more than 60 Colombian and Venezuelan children. The project is intended to have a second phase, in which three more class rooms are to be opened, which would provide children and teachers with connectivity technologies that would improve their possibilities to continue the education of displaced children during the irregular situation of the border territories.

Special Mission to the Dominican Republic and Haiti Border (2015)

In 2014 the Dominican Republic launched a program to regularize foreigners who were in their territory without legal status. According to current estimates, 87% of the migrants in the Dominican Republic (458,233) were of Haitian origin.

The National Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners (PNRE) was in force between June 2014 and June 2015, and in that period 288,466 people were registered. At the end of the PNRE, the possibility of massive deportations of Haitian citizens from the Dominican Republic to Haiti provoked international concern and intensified diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

As a result, on July 9, 2015, the OAS sent a technical mission headed by the Secretary for Political Affairs and his advisor in order to gather information on the movement of people from the Dominican Republic to Haiti; hear the views of government and non-governmental players in both countries about the situation;, gather available data on the number of persons affected by the new law and their migrant status; and ultimately present the Secretary General of the OAS with a report containing observations and recommendations on what support the Organization of American States could provide to both countries.

One of the recommendations of the report was to use the good offices of the OAS to strengthen the registration and identification processes in Haiti through the OAS Program for the Universal Civil Identity Program in the Americas (PUICA by its Spanish acronym). In September 2016 PUICA initiated the implementation of a technical cooperation project to support the Haitian authorities in the delivery of ID documents and as well as identification to Haitian migrants residing in the Dominican Republic, allowing them to complete the regularization of their status migratory.