ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH EAST ASIAN NATIONS
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an organisation of nine Southeast Asian countries - Brunei, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It promotes economic, cultural, and social cooperation among its members. ASEAN works for peace and stability in Southeast Asia, but it is not a defence organisation.
The members of ASEAN cooperate in such fields as population control, prevention of drug abuse, and scientific research. Teachers, students, and artists of the member nations exchange visits. The organisation also develops plans to promote tourism in ASEAN countries and to encourage programs of Southeast Asian studies. It works to reduce trade barriers among the members.
The foreign ministers of the member countries meet annually to determine ASEAN policy and to consider projects recommended by ASEAN committees. These committees deal with subjects ranging from food and agriculture to the mass media. They consist of experts and officials from the member countries and are responsible for putting ASEAN projects into effect. ASEAN's administrative body, the Central Secretariat, works to make sure that the policies of the organisation are carried out. The secretariat is in Jakarta, Indonesia.
ASEAN was established in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. During the 1970's, cooperation increased among the member nations. The ASEAN heads of government met in 1976 for the first time and made several important agreements. The member nations agreed to share basic products during shortages and to gradually remove trade restrictions. They also decided to build an industrial project in each country. The leaders established the organisation's Central Secretariat, as well as a council to settle disputes among the member nations.
Brunei became a member of ASEAN in 1984. Vietnam was admitted in 1995. In 1997, Burma and Laos became members.
CARICOM is an organisation for political and economic cooperation of Caribbean states. Its full name is the Caribbean Community and Common Market. CARICOM was established by the Treaty of Chaguaramas in 1973 to replace the former Caribbean Free Trade Association. The 14 member states are Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. The British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands are associate members, and the Dominican Republic and Venezuela act as observers.
CARICOM's main aim is economic integration, with the creation of a single Caribbean market. Other activities include cooperation in health projects, education programs, and foreign policy.
In 1994, representatives of more than 35 nations signed a charter to establish the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). The ACS is a CARICOM-sponsored trading group that includes the Caribbean islands, Central America, Mexico, and Venezuela.
The European Union was previously called the European Community.
In 1952 it consisted of the following countries:-
The following countries joined in 1973:-
Greece joined in 1981
Portugal and Spain both joined in 1986
There was another expansion in 1995 with the addition of the following:-
The largest expansion took place in 2004 with the addition of the following 10
With effect from 1st May 2004, the European Union consists of the following 25
Please see each individual country for more information.
The Nordic Council includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Citizens of Nordic Council countries may work and receive social benefits in any member nation, and they may travel among member nations without a passport or visa.
NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANISATION
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is a military alliance consisting of 16 countries. The 16 countries are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
Formed in 1949, NATO was set up largely to discourage an attack by the Soviet Union on the non-Communist nations of Western Europe. After World War II ended in 1945, an intense rivalry had developed between Communist countries, led by the Soviet Union, and non-Communist nations, led by the United States. This rivalry became known as the Cold War. In 1955, the Soviet Union and Communist nations of Eastern Europe formed their own military alliance to oppose NATO. The Soviet-led alliance was called the Warsaw Pact.
NATO also was established to keep the peace among former enemies in Western Europe. In World War II, for example, Italy and Germany had fought most of the other countries that later became NATO members.
In forming NATO, each member country agreed to treat an attack on any other member as an attack on itself. Militarily, the United States was - and still is - the alliance's most powerful member, in part because of its large supply of nuclear weapons. The NATO countries believed the Soviet Union would not attack Western Europe if such an attack would trigger war with the United States. NATO's policy is known as deterrence because it is designed to deter (discourage) an attack. NATO's purpose, however, has been less clear since the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union were dissolved in 1991.
NATO has a civilian branch and a military branch. The civilian branch includes the North Atlantic Council, the highest authority in NATO. The council consists of the heads of government of the NATO members or their representatives. A secretary-general heads the council. A European has always held this post. Decisions of the council must be unanimous.
NATO's military branch includes three commands: Allied Command Atlantic, Allied Command Channel, and Allied Command Europe. Allied Command Europe has traditionally functioned as the heart of NATO. Its commander has always been a U.S. general. NATO's military commanders report to the Military Committee, which reports, in turn, to the North Atlantic Council. The Military Committee consists of the military chiefs of staff or other representatives of the NATO nations.
NATO was formed as a result of the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed by 12 countries on April 4, 1949, in Washington, D.C. The 12 countries were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Greece and Turkey joined NATO in 1952. West Germany joined in 1955. Germany replaced West Germany as a NATO member in 1990, when West Germany and East Germany were united. Spain joined NATO in 1982.
During the Cold War, NATO helped maintain peace in Europe through its policy of deterrence. But it also experienced disagreements among its members. The most troublesome involved nuclear weapons. United States officials generally insisted that NATO rely on nuclear weapons to deter a Soviet attack. Some people in NATO countries, however, opposed the use of these weapons. Also, European countries occasionally doubted that the United States would actually use nuclear weapons to defend Europe. Their doubts were based on the fact that the Soviet Union also had a powerful nuclear force. For these reasons, Britain and France built their own nuclear weapons. In 1966, France pulled its troops out of the NATO military command, though it remained a NATO member. Before France withdrew its troops, NATO's central office had been in Paris. In 1967, the organisation moved its headquarters to Brussels, Belgium.
NATO's biggest crisis followed the breakup of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union in 1991. The Soviet Union broke apart into a number of independent states. Most of these states - and the Soviet Union's former allies in Eastern Europe - rejected Communism. Some people felt that without its traditional Communist enemies, NATO had lost its purpose and should disband.
Some NATO leaders proposed offering membership in NATO to such former Warsaw Pact lands as Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic. Other NATO leaders worried that offering membership to former Soviet allies might lead to a dangerous conflict with Russia.
To help resolve the uncertainty about NATO's future, the alliance began the Partnership for Peace program in 1994. Over 20 countries joined the program, including Russia. Most of the other countries that joined were Eastern European nations. The program provides for joint military planning and exercises with NATO members but does not involve formal NATO membership.
In the mid-1990's, NATO took military action against Bosnian Serb forces to help end a civil war in the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Bosnian Serbs were fighting Bosnia-Herzegovina's government. NATO's action increased tension between NATO and Russia, a traditional ally of the Serbs. In late 1995, the Bosnian government and the Bosnian Serbs agreed to a peace treaty, and NATO troops soon replaced United Nations troops as the peacekeeping force in Bosnia.
In 1997, Russia announced that it would not oppose the eastward expansion of NATO. That same year, NATO and Russia agreed to form a joint council to give Russia a voice in NATO decision making. Later in 1997, NATO invited the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland to seek formal NATO membership. All three countries had expressed interest in becoming members. NATO decided not to offer membership to a number of other Eastern European countries.
ORGANISATION FOR AFRICAN UNITY
Organisation of African Unity (OAU) is a union of African nations. It works to promote unity among African peoples and strengthen cultural, economic, military, scientific, and social ties. It also aids member nations stricken by natural disasters. The OAU consists of 52 countries and a government-in-exile.
A major concern of the OAU is economic growth and development in Africa. In 1980, OAU members agreed on the Lagos Plan of Action for economic cooperation throughout the continent. An African common market is planned by the year 2000.
The OAU was founded in 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and originally had 32 members. Through the years, its influence has increased in both African and world affairs. The OAU has settled several boundary disputesbetween various member nations. It has opposed colonialism in Africa and established a special fund to aid independence movements against colonial rule. Such movements helped end Portuguese colonial rule there. The OAU also supported a successful movement by the black majority in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) to gain control of their government. It had been dominated by a white minority. The OAU also supported a successful movement by the black majority in South Africa to gain control of their government from the white minority. Until 1994, the whites had kept control of the government by prohibiting blacks from voting.
The Organisation of African Unity has three administrative bodies: the Assembly of the Heads of States and Governments, the Council of Ministers, and the General Secretariat - which is headed by a secretary-general. The assembly holds an annual meeting that is attended by the leader of each member nation. The leaders vote on policies recommended by the council, which consists of foreign ministers or other officials appointed by the individual governments. The council meets at least twice a year. The General Secretariat, a permanent body that is located in Addis Ababa, works to make sure that the OAU's policies are carried out. In addition, there are a number of specialised agencies.
The OAU has experienced many problems. These problems include disputes over the membership of nations, shortages of funds, costs of dealing with natural disasters, and disputes over the appointment and functions of the secretary-general.
MEMBERS OF THE OAU
The original members of the OAU do not have dates after their names. Other members are listed with their years of admission. One original member, Morocco, resigned in 1984. Algeria, Angola (1975), Benin, Botswana (1966), Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde (1975), Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros (1975), Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Djibouti (1977), Egypt, Equatorial Guinea (1968), Eritrea (1993), Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia (1965), Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau (1974), Ivory Coast, Kenya (1963), Lesotho (1966), Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi (1964), Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius (1968), Mozambique (1975), Namibia (1990), Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (1984), Sao Tome and Principe (1975), Senegal, Seychelles (1976), Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa (1994), Sudan, Swaziland (1968), Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia (1964) and Zimbabwe (1980)
ORGANISATION OF AMERICAN STATES
Organisation of American States (OAS) is an association of 35 American countries. The OAS seeks to provide for collective self-defense, regional cooperation, and the peaceful settlement of controversies. The OAS charter sets forth the group's guiding principles. These principles include a belief in the value of international law, social justice, economic cooperation, and the equality of all people. In addition, the OAS charter states that an act of aggression against one American nation is regarded as an act of aggression against all the nations in the OAS.
The OAS functions through several bodies. Major policies are formed at annual sessions of the General Assembly. All member nations can attend, and each has one vote. Special Meetings of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs deal with urgent problems, especially those relating to defense or the maintenance of peace in the Americas. The Permanent Council, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., is the executive body of the OAS. Each member nation is represented. For convenience, diplomatic representatives in Washington serve as council members. The council supervises the General Secretariat, makes plans for General Assembly sessions, and oversees OAS administration. The secretary-general, the chief administrator of the OAS, is elected to a five-year term by the General Assembly. Specialised conferences promote inter-American cooperation.
The Organisation of American States had its early beginning at the First International Conference of American States, which met in Washington, D.C., in 1889 and 1890. The delegates established the International Union of American Republics, with the Commercial Bureau of the American Republics as its central office. This bureau was renamed the Pan American Union in 1910. The Pan American Union became the permanent body of the OAS when it was organised in 1948 at the ninth Pan-American Conference, held in Bogota, Colombia. The organisation's original charter became effective in December 1951. An amended charter took effect in February 1970, and the Pan American Union was renamed the General Secretariat of the OAS.
Early in 1962, the Organisation of American States voted to exclude Cuba's Communist government from active membership. But Cuba itself remains an OAS member even though its government cannot participate in any of the organisation's activities.
In 1965, a revolt in the Dominican Republic led the OAS to set up its first military force. Troops from six Latin American countries and the United States took part. The troops and OAS committees worked to restore order in the Dominican Republic. In 1969, the OAS acted quickly to end a five-day invasion of Honduras by troops from El Salvador.
During the late 1970's, the organisation's main concern became human rights. The Inter-American Human Rights Commission - a specialised OAS agency - interviewed political exiles and conducted on-site investigations of human-rights violations. The commission also issued reports about electoral fraud, illegal imprisonment, and torture and other acts of brutality.
The influence of the OAS began to decline during the early 1980's because of increased involvement by other international agencies in Latin-American affairs. These agencies included the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
MEMBERS OF THE OAS
Antigua and Barbuda Dominican Republic Peru Argentina Ecuador St. Kitts and Nevis Bahamas El Salvador St. Lucia Barbados Grenada St. Vincent and the Grenadines Belize Guatemala Suriname Bolivia Guyana Trinidad and Tobago Brazil Haiti United States Canada Honduras Uruguay Chile Jamaica Venezuela Colombia Mexico Costa Rica Nicaragua Cuba Panama Dominica Paraguay
ORGANISATION OF PETROLEUM EXPORTING COUNTRIES
Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is an association of 12 nations that depend heavily on oil exports for their incomes. Its members work together to try to increase their revenue from the sale of oil on the world market. OPEC members have three-fourths of the world's recoverable oil reserves. In the early 1990's, these countries produced more than half the oil traded internationally. The members of OPEC are Algeria, Gabon, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
OPEC was founded in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. At that time, the petroleum industry in these countries was controlled by United States and European oil companies. These firms paid the host governments income taxes and royalties (shares of their profits) based on the posted price the companies charged for crude oil on the world market. In 1959 and 1960, oil production greatly exceeded world demand. The surplus that was thereby created prompted several of the major companies to cut the posted price and thus their payments to host governments. OPEC was founded in response to this price cut.
OPEC had little influence on oil prices during the 1960's, when production expanded to keep pace with demand. In the 1970's, however, world demand for oil began to outgrow what was available from non-OPEC sources. In 1973, OPEC stopped consulting with oil companies and decided to raise oil prices in keeping with the rate of inflation (the rise of all prices).
Armed conflict also contributed to rising oil prices. During the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, some Arab members of OPEC stopped or reduced oil exports to countries supporting Israel. As a result, oil prices in those countries, including the United States and other Western industrial nations, rose sharply. During the late 1970's, the Iranian revolution caused a shortage that helped OPEC increase oil prices again.
OPEC was less successful at achieving its goals in the 1980's, when the world oil supply again exceeded demand. In 1983, OPEC cut the price of its oil for the first time. During the middle and late 1980's, OPEC set production limits for its members several times. But many members ignored the limits, thereby holding prices down. Although brief price increases resulted from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, oil prices remained stable in the early 1990's.
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids