The phenomenon of regionalism is today present throughout the international system, and regional organisations are widely considered to play an important role in relation to international security. With the United Nations system increasingly overburdened since the 1990s, such organisations have emerged as one possible solution to problems associated with state fragility and violence perpetrated by non-state actors. Relative to other regional organisations, the Organisation of American States (OAS) has received little attention in the literature and it is not generally considered to have much impact on international relations in the Americas. This paper, however, argues that the OAS does matter and that rules and norms do make a difference in international relations more generally. The OAS, despite its problems, has played an important role in terms of preventive diplomacy, generating channels for communication and building institutions that have helped avert violent conflict in a number of cases.
Working Paper No. 34 (series 2), London, UK; Crisis States Research Centre, 35 pp.