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Organization of American States

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The Organization of American States (OAS) Building, located at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW. is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was constructed to house the Pan American Union (later renamed the Organization of American States).

The Pan American Union was established to strengthen relationships between the nations of the Americas, to support democracies, and to resolve international issues peacefully. Using Georgian, Tennessee, and Italian marble, architects blended North and South American architectural styles to construct the building in 1908. The area near the OAS building has become a central location for the placement of statues and memorials commemorating Hispanic liberators.


Grounded by the Ideals of Panamericanism

The Organization uses a four-pronged approach to effectively implement its essential purposes, based on its main pillars: democracy, human rights, security, and development. The OAS is the premier political forum of the Americas, where the independent countries of North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean come together to advance their common goals and work out their differences.

A Living Monument to our Pillars

Having climbed the two marble staircases at either side of the patio, you’ll find yourself in the Hall of Flags and Heroes. Lining the walls are busts of our pillars, Simón Bolívar, José de San Martín, Benito Juarez, Bernardo O’Higgins, and José Martí. These revered men are accompanied by many national heroes, leaders and liberators of the Americas. Above the busts are the colorful flags of all the OAS member states arranged in Spanish alphabetical order.

“Men are like the stars; some generate their own light while others reflect the brilliance they receive.”

~ José Martí

A Night Like No Other

Adjoining the Hall of Flags and Heroes is the elegant Hall of the Americas with its impressive columns, Tiffany chandeliers, and ornate stained glass windows. This room is where the highest ranking meetings of the inter-American system take place. This is also where numbers heads of state, including Pope John Paul II, have addressed the Organization and where the historic Panama Canal Treaties were signed in 1977.

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