OAS: Organization of American States

This guide was adapted from a research guide prepared by Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez, Librarian for Latin American Studies, Latino Studies, and Iberian Peninsular Studies at Princeton University

Background Information

The Organization of American States (OAS) was established in 1948 by 21 nations of the hemisphere. Since its creation, the OAS has expanded to include all 35 independent countries of the Americas. Cuba remains a member, but its government has been excluded from participation since 1962. The four official languages of the OAS are English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Its predecessors are the International Bureau of the American Republics and the Pan American Union.

The OAS serves as a political forum for multilateral dialogue and action. In broad terms, its major concerns have been the promotion of democracy, human rights, security, trade, and development. Its impact has been most crucial on specific events or regional developments such as the Alliance for Progress, the Cuban Revolution, the Nicaraguan Revolution, and more recently, as mediator between political factions in Venezuela. The OAS is the umbrella and governing body for many inter-American committees and specialized organizations, including the Pan American Health Organization, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development.

For more details, go to the OAS webpage at

More about the OAS

For more information on the OAS, including its history and critical assessments, search BobCat and other online indexes and bibliographies such as International Political Science Abstracts, PAIS: Public Affairs Information Service, Hispanic American Periodicals Index, and the Handbook of Latin American Studies.

The following two bibliographies contain a listing of many of the most important works written about the OAS.

Sheinin, David. The Organization of American States. Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 1995.
Bobst REF6 F1402 .S5 1995
Arranged by topic, event or policy area. Includes reference works and chronology.

Welch, Thomas L and René L. Gutiérrez. The Organization of American States: a Bibliography. Washington, D.C.: Columbus Memorial Library, Organization of American States, 1990.
Bobst REF6 KDZ1101 .W45 1990
Arranged by author or title.

What are OAS Official Documents?

Not everything published by the OAS is considered an official document. Its official documents are only those published by its General Secretariat for the organization’s deliberative organs that are then classified as part of the Official Records Series.

Included: Minutes of the Council (1948-1969) and Permanent Council (1970-present), resolutions of the General Assembly, committee reports, proceedings of the Inter-American conferences and meetings, final acts of specialized conferences, meeting agendas, the Annual Report of the Secretary General, statutes and regulations.

To a sense of what may be considered an official document, please see the OAS organizational structure at:

Not included: confidential documents, promotional materials, reports, monographs, bulletins, and other publications outside of the categories described above.

OAS Documents and Indexes at Bobst Library

Bobst Library maintains OAS documents and publications in both microfiche and print formats. Although not up-to-date (1999 is the latest one issued), the Documentos Oficiales de la Organizacion de los Estados Americanos microfiche set listed below is the only comprehensive source for OAS official documents. For more recent, but not comprehensive, coverage search BobCat for OAS documents and publications in print.

Documentos Oficiales de la Organizacion de los Estados Americanos (OAS Official Records)
Holdings: 1948-1960 and 1990-1999
Bobst Ref6 Microform Area (West Wing) - Cabinet 44
Includes all official documents published by 8 organs of the OAS: General Assembly; Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs; Permanent Council and Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI); Inter-American Juridical Committee; Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; General Secretariat; Specialized Conferences; and Inter-American Specialized Organizations. Also included are multilateral agreements, conventions, treaties, bilateral and regional agreements, arrangements to which the OAS is a party and the following OAS periodicals: Américas, La Educación and Inter-American Review of Bibliography.

Relevant Checklist and Index:

Lista general de los documentos oficiales de la Organización de Estados Americanos.
Bobst Ref6 Index Table A F1402 .A169
Holdings: 1960-1970,1976-1985
Bobst Ref6 Microform Area (West Wing) - Cabinet 44
Located at the beginning of each year’s set of microfiche.
Holdings: 1990-1999
This annual checklist of OAS official records is arranged by type of document and classification number. Entries include document title, date, page number and language (English, Spanish, French and/or Portuguese). Beginning in 1998, the Lista General includes a bibliography of OAS publications cataloged by the OAS Columbus Memorial Library.

Documentos oficiales de la Organizacion de los Estados Americanos: Indice Analítico.
Bobst Ref6 Index Table A F1402.A17
Holdings: 1973-1974, 1978-1983
Ref6 Microform Area (West Wing) - Cabinet 44
Holdings: 1990-1999
Subject index.

Actas del Consejo de la Organización de Estados Americanos (Minutes of the Council of the OAS)
Holdings: 1948-1969
Ref6 Microform Area (West Wing) - Cabinet 44: Microfiche C-0001 to C-0462
Verbatim records of the Council.

Relevant Checklist and Index:

Lista de las Actas del Consejo de la Organización de los Estados Americanos 1948-1969.
Ref6 Microform Area (West Wing) - Cabinet 44
Located at the beginning of this microfiche set.

Indice analítico cumulativo de los volúmenes de las Síntesis y resoluciones del Consejo Permanente, 1970-1985.
Bobst REF6 Index KDZ1171.A4 O73 1986

Cumulative Analytical Index of the Volumes of Summaries of the Meetings and the Resolutions of the Permanent Council, 1970-1986.
Bobst REF6 Index KDZ1171.A4 O74 1987

Indice analitico cumulativo de los volumenes de las decisiones tomadas en las sesiones del consejo de la OEA (Cumulative analytical index of the volumes of summaries of the meetings of the Council of the OAS)
Ref6 Microform Area (West Wing) - Cabinet 44
Located at the beginning of this microfiche set. Arranged by year, then topic. Cross-references. Includes organizational charts.

OAS Treaty Series.
Ref6 Microform Area (West Wing) - Cabinet 44: Microfiche 01-86
Includes table of contents, OAS Charter.

Organization of American States. Documentos oficiales = Official records. Washington: Pan American Union. 1948-.

OAS Periodicals at Bobst Library

Bobst Library maintains the following OAS periodicals in print (see BobCat) and microfiche (see Documentos Oficiales de la Organizacion de los Estados Americanos listed above) formats for different years. If you encounter missing issues in print, please check the microfiche set.

La Educación
Inter-American Review of Bibliography

Online Full-Text Access

Thousands of OAS publications (including official documents, reports, press releases, audiovisual materials, and other) may be found in the OAS home page:

Even though this site is rich in documentation and may be sufficient for most purposes, the information it contains tends to be dispersed. Coverage of documents produced since 1998 is extensive, not comprehensive.

Major documents such as the Annual Report of the Secretary General, resolutions and declarations, and treaties and conventions, can be rapidly located in the “Documents” section of the page:

Many other documents and publications can be found in the “Publications” section or from sections within the web site developed by particular OAS units or divisions. Understanding the organizational structure is key for locating documents or publications on a particular subject or area. For a description of the OAS organizational structure, see:

The OAS site is searchable. The OAS Search Form serves to locate documents on a particular subject or area. Only keyword searches are possible.

OAS Documents and Publications at Other Libraries

OAS documents not held by Bobst Library may be obtained via Interlibrary Loan. The New York Public Library and the Library of Congress are two of the libraries with complete collections of the microfiche set. Many libraries have acquired and individually cataloged thousands of OAS Official documents and other publications (including monographs, serials and other print publications). Bibliographic access to those is available through OCLC WorldCat or RLIN.

Document delivery: Documents are also available for purchase directly from the OAS affiliated Columbus Memorial Library. For ordering instructions, see:


UN Documents Collection

Log In to OmniUpdate