The Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Continental Peace and Security that produced the Rio Pact met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during 15 August–2 September 1947. Signed by the United States and twenty other American countries including former Axis sympathizer Argentina, the pact made the Act of Chapultepec a permanent treaty. The inter-American system was based on the preexisting principle that an attack against one American nation was to be considered an attack against them all.
The prototype for the formation of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, the Rio Pact went into effect on 3 December 1948 after ratification by two-thirds of the signatory nations. It became the principal document regulating mutual security and conflict resolution within the inter-American system. Signatories decided by a two-thirds majority what kind of collective action would be taken, ranging from breaking diplomatic relations to imposing economic sanctions and using armed force, but no state was required to use such force. In addition to being an anti-communist Cold War agreement, the pact was also invoked to resolve many interhemispheric controversies. Signatories pledged to submit all hemispheric disputes for settlement according to the procedures of the inter-American system before bringing cases to the United Nations (UN).
The terms of the Rio Pact became the foundation for the 1948 Act of Bogotá, which established the Organization of American States (OAS), and implementing the Rio Pact became a primary responsibility of that body during the Cold War. U.S. President John F. Kennedy described the 1962 Soviet-Cuban maneuver to introduce nuclear missiles into Cuba as a violation of the Rio Pact. He invoked the authorization for the use of force under the pact (for the first time) against Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
When U.S. leaders believed that communism threatened their nation's hemispheric interests, they often circumvented the Rio Pact and acted unilaterally, either covertly, as in the 1954 Guatemala intervention by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or overtly, as in the U.S. military's 1983 invasion of Grenada. The pact was invoked numerous times during the Cold War but fell into disuse as Latin Americans became dissatisfied with U.S. domination of the inter-American system and as Cold War threats ceased.
David M. Carletta
Smith, Gaddis. The Last Years of the Monroe Doctrine, 1945–1993. New York: Hill and Wang, 1994.; Stoetzer, O. Carlos. The Organization of American States. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1993.