OAS Transparency Accord Opened for SignatureNineteen countries, including the United States, signed the Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisitions on June 7 at the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly meeting in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The convention is the first multilateral transparency accord to require states-parties to annually report weapons imports and exports, as well as provide timely notification of weapons acquisitions through both imports and domestic production.
The convention's reporting and notification conditions apply to tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile launchers. Though the convention does not require advance notification of arms acquisitions—a provision the United States pushed for, but failed to win—it does require states-parties to notify the OAS General Secretariat no later than 90 days after the incorporation of a weapons system into their armed forces' inventory.
In a June 7 statement, State Department spokesman James Foley said that the convention "will discourage unnecessary acquisitions" of conventional weapons, and that transparency had been a "key factor" in the Clinton administration's August 1997 decision to resume high-tech arms transfers to Latin America after a 20-year de facto ban on such exports. The timing of that policy change allowed U.S. arms manufacturers to compete for a Chilean purchase of fighter aircraft, but provoked strong criticism from several Latin American states.
The other June 7 signatories were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.