On September 11, the countries on the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved a resolution to implement the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (the Rio Treaty) in Venezuela. The Rio Treaty establishes diplomatic and military cooperation between countries on the continent in the face of intra- and extra-regional aggressions against the States. OAS Foreign Affairs Ministers are set to meet in the second half of September to consider establishing an economic blockade or breaking off diplomatic relations.
The resolution considers that the current crisis in Venezuela is having a destabilizing impact on the region and poses a “clear threat” to peace and security in the hemisphere. OAS member states summoned the foreign ministers of the region to decide what measures to take in this regard. The Rio Treaty allows for the use of military force “in the exercise of the right to legitimate defense” which is also in accordance with the legal concept of States’ international responsibility to protect citizens from human rights violations.
It should be noted that the Rio Treaty only envisages military force as a final resort, with several instances proposed prior to this step. Members may, when resolving a conflict, first decide to break off diplomatic relations with the aggressor state and establish an economic blockade, for instance.