Persistence and Change in Regional Security Institutions: Does the OAS Still Have a Project?

Weiffen, Brigitte (2012). Persistence and Change in Regional Security Institutions: Does the OAS Still Have a Project? Contemporary Security Policy, 33(2) pp. 360–383.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13523260.2012.693801

Abstract

This article follows the recent trend of bringing the Organization of American States (OAS) back into the debate on regional security, previously dominated by the accomplishments of European institutions and the shortcomings of their Asian and African counterparts. The study of the OAS is advanced here through application of an analytical framework derived from institutionalist theory. A security organization may change its form during its lifetime and pursue different kinds of tasks. The oldest regional security institution, the OAS was designed for collective security. This yielded to collective defence during the Cold War, and to cooperative security in the 1990s. After 11 September it returned to collective defence, but the contradictory reassertion of United States leadership and the emergence of South American regional power made hemispheric cooperation more difficult again. The OAS's main achievement is the extension of essential principles – democracy, human rights, and peaceful conflict resolution – to the entire hemisphere. As a diversified institution addressing a wide variety of security challenges, however, the OAS must find a coherent project alongside more focused sub-regional organizations such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

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