This is, for the most part, a formal, objective, and legalistic survey of the development and functioning of the inter-American security system. Within its self-imposed limits it is probably the best study of its kind which has been published in Latin America. The author is a professor of international law in the National University of Colombia, has served his country in diplomatic missions, and is a member of the Inter-American Juridical Committee. He has written extensively on aspects of the inter-American system.
The principal divisions of the work are: Parts One and Two, Origins and Development of Pan Americanism; Part Three, Achievements of Pan Americanism; Part Four, New Problems, under which heading are considered Human Rights and Representative Democracy, and Operation Pan America; and Part Five, which contains the Haya de la Torre asylum case, and the Pan American meetings of 1960, which should have been included in Part Two. The author throws his work out of balance by indulging a special interest in the right of asylum.
The work is comprehensive in the sense that it contains mention of virtually all the steps marking the development of the formal structure of the inter-American system. However, these steps are traced without reference to contemporary international problems and important political, social, and economic considerations. The study is drafted, as it were, in a vacuum; and to say that the final result is unrealistic is an understatement. Insofar as the various inter-American treaties and agreements are analyzed—and in some instances these analyses are quite detailed—the author’s criticisms are usually confined to highly specialized technical details. Never are these agreements subjected to examination reflecting the realities of inter-American relationships, nor is there any mention of the integration of the OAS into the United Nations.
The principal, and almost sole, value of this book is to be found therefore, in a rather complete collection, and technical description, of most of the pacts and agreements which are components of the inter-American system. It adds nothing to our understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of this regional arrangement as a functioning instrument for the coordination of relations of the American republics.