TEPID PARTNERS: THE RIO TREATY AND COLLECTIVE INTER-AMERICAN SECURITY
O'Konski, Alex J.
Darnton, Christopher N.
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The Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, also known as the Rio Treaty, is one of the Organization of American States’ (OAS) founding agreements. The treaty includes language that provides for collective hemispheric defense, and it has been invoked on multiple occasions. However, Rio Treaty invocations have consistently struggled to generate salient multilateral security cooperation. This thesis hypothesizes, and finds, that the Rio Treaty has been unsuccessful at producing meaningful security cooperation because of repeated misuse by its signatories. To prove the hypothesis, this thesis examines OAS involvement in two regional crises, the 1965 Dominican Civil War and the Falklands/Malvinas War, in search of common themes. In both cases, a treaty signatory executed a fait accompli and then turned to the OAS in need of international legitimacy rather than strategic need. During the Dominican Civil War, the Rio Treaty was not invoked when it likely should have been. As a result, the Inter-American Peace Force (IAPF), which the OAS dispatched in response to the crisis, would remain forever unformalized. Argentina misused the Rio Treaty by invoking it after it had to face the military consequences of a conflict that it instigated with Great Britain. The vastly different OAS response to each case can be explained by vested U.S. interest in each conflict.
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