The Organization of American States (OAS) is a regional organisation of all 35 independent countries of the Americas, which was established in 19481 in order to achieve among its Member States ‘an order of peace and justice, to promote their solidarity, to strengthen their collaboration, and to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their independence.’2 The OAS has four main pillars – democracy, human rights, security, and development – which are supported by political dialogue, practical cooperation, and legal and follow-up instruments.3 The Member States pursue cooperation in mutual legal assistance and in combating illegal drugs, corruption, domestic violence and cybercrime.
The OAS established the Working Group on Cyber-Crime in 1999 as the principal forum to ‘strengthen international cooperation in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of cybercrime, facilitate the exchange of information and experiences among its members, and make necessary recommendations to enhance and ensure efforts to combat these crimes.’4 This Working Group meets on a roughly biannual basis, providing recommendations for the Member States.5
The OAS also deals with the broader issue of cyber security. In 2004, the OAS General Assembly provided a mandate in its Resolution AG / RES. 2004 (XXXIV-O/04), titled ‘The Inter-American Integral Strategy to Combat Threats to Cyber Security,’ for the Secretariat of the OAS Inter-American Committee against Terrorism to begin working on cyber security issues. The main tasks for the Secretariat are to help establish national Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs), create a network composed of these CSIRTs, and support the development of national cyber security strategies. Since 2007, the Secretariat has ‘endeavoured to create a comprehensive capacity building program based on workshops, technical courses, roundtable policy discussions, crisis management exercises, and the exchange of best practices.’6
Recognizing the evolving nature of cyber security threats, OAS Member States renewed their commitment to cyber security by adopting, in 2012, the declaration on “Strengthening Cyber Security in the Americas” and in 2015, the “Declaration on the Protection of Critical Infrastructure from Emerging Threats” (2015).
- Charter of the Organization of American States (Bogotá, 30 April 1948), which has since been updated by 4 Protocols: (1) Protocol of Buenos Aires, 27 February; (2) 1967 Protocol of Cartagena, 5 December 1985; (3) Protocol of Washington, 14 December 1992; (4) Protocol of Managua, 10 June 1993. Available at: http://www.oas.org/dil/treaties_A-41_Charter_of_the_Organization_of_Amer…
- Article 1 of the OAS Charter
- See OAS website: http://www.oas.org/en/about/what_we_do.asp
- See OAS website: http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/cyber_faq_en.htm#1
- See OAS website: http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/cyber_experts.htm
- See OAS website: http://www.oas.org/en/sms/cyber/aboutus.asp