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Building on a strong foundation: the inter-American system 1889-1989.

When the inter-American system was created one hundred years ago, history was issued a challenge: in the Americas, the force of law would have to prevail over the law of force.

Peace has been the basic objective of inter-American institutions throughout their history. The peace tree gracing the patio of the headquarters of the Organization of American States is a fitting symbol of the ideals underlying the international organization of the nations of the Hemisphere.

Approximately six decades after the founding of the system, the Organization that now exists took shape through the adoption of the Charter of Bogota. The representatives of the American states declared, in the name of their peoples, that they had developed it "to achieve an order of peace and justice" through collaboration among the American nations, in defense of their sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

Again and again, the system has been summoned to fulfill its mandate. Dialogue and understanding have staved off clashes and confrontations. Consultation and negotiation have resolved conflicts. People have joined forces in mass campaigns for development and progress. A movement of solidarity has emerged to promote democracy and respect for human rights. The OAS has been instrumental in all these efforts.

There have also been moments of frustration and failure, times when principles were forgotten and the determination to ensure civilized coexistence among peoples faltered. But over and above successes and failures, the inter-American system, and the OAS as the cornerstone of that system, continue to bear witness to the indestructible spirit of the human soul, which aspires to build peace on the basis of a meeting of minds rather than on the weak foundation of arsenals of war.
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Author:Restrepo, Jose Luis
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Mar 1, 1990
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