Representatives of the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved a new multilateral tool for assessing drug policy in the region during the 52nd Regular Session of CICAD, which was inaugurated by the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla on November 28, and in which the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, participated.
The 52nd regular session of CICAD drew representatives from across the Americas to set key policy evaluation tools for assessing government drug control efforts.
In the opening ceremony, President Laura Chinchilla welcomed the representatives of the Member States of the OAS and thanked CICAD for giving Costa Rica the opportunity to host the event and assume the presidency of the Commission, a position taken by Costa Rica's anti-drug commissioner, Mauricio Boraschi.
The Costa Rican President expressed her country's commitment to the struggle against drugs, and to the search for new ways to carry it out: "Costa Rica reaffirms its determination to continue to fight against this problem and therefore with take certain steps to improve the institutional framework, such as legal reforms to improve the technique of wiretapping, the extradition of nationals and the promotion of a regional treaty for patrols in the Pacific."
"Additionally, we will request that the UN Security Council declare drug trafficking as a threat to peace and security in the world," she added.
The Central American region is no longer just a transit region for drug traffickers, warned President Chinchilla; it has become one of consumption, which increases the problem of criminal organizations, all of which makes "the magnitude of problem we are facing take on enormous dimensions."
President Chinchilla congratulated the representatives from throughout the hemisphere who attended the session of the Commission on the progress in the design of a multilateral instrument for evaluating the performance of countries in the fight against drug trafficking..
The instrument is based on 27 approved recommendations from the Hemispheric Drug Strategy (2010) and its Action Plan 2011-2015. The instrument includes an innovative proposal that suggests a new model for the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM).
During the presentation of the proposal of the MEM's Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG), which drafted the set of documents, the IWG General Coordinator and CICAD Chair Mauricio Boraschi (Costa Rica) said, "In the current environment, it is very important to have strategies and mechanisms that facilitate hemispheric cooperation to address the global drug problem in all its aspects. Particularly, through recommendations aimed at strengthening the capacities of the smallest and most vulnerable states, as is the case in Central America."
Additionally, in detailing the set of components that make up this instrument of evaluation, the representative of Mexico and Deputy General Coordinator of the IWG, Juan Gabriel Morales, said, "The proposal means the relaunching of the MEM, moving to a model of objective assessment, more dynamic and attached to the principles of the CICAD Strategy and Plan of Action."
For his part, CICAD Executive Secretary Paul Simons said "The Sixth Round of Evaluation will begin in early 2013 and will mark an important milestone in the implementation of the Hemispheric Drug Strategy and its Action Plan."
Pursuant to a mandate from the Second Summit of the Americas (1998), the MEM is an instrument designed to evaluate the progress of measures taken by Member States to address drug control. This evaluation is carried out through the development and publication of national and hemispheric level reports. Up to 2012, there were five rounds. The reports are prepared by the Governmental Expert Group, whose members are appointed by the Member States to be part of a multidisciplinary team. Experts do not participate in the evaluation of their own country.
The 52nd Regular Session of CICAD, which was inaugurated on November 28 by the President of Costa Rica, brought together main drug control officials from the region to examine the impact of drug trafficking in the hemisphere and explore mechanisms to respond more effectively and efficiently to its threats.
The meeting coincides with the stage in which the organization is preparing the Report on the Problem of Drugs in the Hemisphere, pursuant to the mandate of the Sixth Summit of the Americas in April in Cartagena, Colombia. This report, to be completed in the first half of 2013, is being carried out under the leadership of the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, who participated in the meeting in Costa Rica on November 29.
The event in San Jose also addressed the focus on public health for a Comprehensive Drug Dependence Treatment System; the alternatives to incarceration for drug dependent offenders, the confiscation and administration of the assets of organized crime, and the latest trends of amphetamines and other synthetic drugs.
OAS General Secretary Insulza discussed the details of the study on drug control policy options with the Commissioners at a working lunch on November 29. He is seated with Mauricio Boraschi, CICAD Chair.
OAS Secretary for Multidimensional Security Adam Blackwell recalled that, according to the task given to the OAS in the Sixth Summit of the Americas, the report should "evaluate the policies and experiences on drugs and offer new alternatives." To fulfill this mandate, Ambassador Blackwell said, "The OAS has organized a team of valuable consultants and partners."
"One of the lessons that we can draw from the report is that the answer to the drug problem must be comprehensive," said Blackwell. "It is not the exclusive task of a ministry or agency, but a job shared by various ministries and agencies. It is a task that includes health, education, as well as the agencies of public security, and that demands the efforts of the private sector and civil society along with those of the state."
In conclusion, the OAS official said, "The job is large. No doubt there will be differences between us on how to deal with this or that matter. But what is no doubt about is that we all want to mitigate a complex situation of addiction, crime and economic costs that only hurt the people of the Americas."
updated on 11/30/2012 5:41:18 PM