Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
December 1, 2011


The Committee on Hemispheric Security is a Permanent Committee of the Organization of American States (OAS). Its function is "to study and make recommendations to the Permanent Council on any matters relating to hemispheric security that may be entrusted to it by the Permanent Council and through it by the General Assembly, in particular with a view to promoting cooperation in this field." In 1991, the 21st General Assembly of the Organization of American States began examining security issues ranging from proliferation and arms transfers to "cooperation for hemispheric security." On June 9, 1995, the 25th OAS through resolution 1353 (XX-0/95) instructed the Permanent Council to establish the Committee on Hemispheric Security. This OAS General Assembly action created the region's first permanent forum for the consideration of arms control, defense, nonproliferation, and security issues.

Since 1991, the OAS has built an impressive record of achievement in the development of confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs). These security accomplishments include the March 1994 Buenos Aires governmental experts' meeting on CSBMs (the first regional dialogue on CSBMs), the November 10, 1995, "Declaration of Santiago on Confidence and Security Building Measures," the February 1998 Declaration of San Salvador," Miami Declaration on CSBM, a regional roster of CSBMs Experts, the world's first Register of Antipersonnel Landmines (APL), and two pathbreaking conventions -- The 1999 Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisition and the 1998 Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials.

The Committee on Hemispheric Security is composed of 34 member states and has a chairman and three vice-chairs that are elected for a 12-month period.

OAS Member States are: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.