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May 5, 1998

If the countries of the Americas are to succeed in fighting illegal drugs, they have to help each other overcome problems and "play as a team," Canada's Deputy Solicitor General Jean Fournier said today. Fournier has been elected chairman of a working group that will develop a multilateral mechanism to evaluate national and regional progress on drugs, through the OAS Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD).

"This is very much a collaborative, cooperative partnership process," Fournier said at a news conference. Pablo Lagos Puccio, who heads Chile's National Council for the Control of Narcotics, today was elected vice chairman of the group.

All 32 members of CICAD, who have been meeting since Monday morning, will be represented in the negotiations to design a system that will evaluate countries' progress in reaching anti-drug goals. The effort stems from a mandate issued by the presidents and prime ministers at April's Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile.

The members of CICAD have agreed to a multilateral review process, Fournier said, adding that the idea is to use the results - including weaknesses that are identified - to improve performance.

"Our overall goal is to provide feedback and assistance to countries in order to improve our individual and collective performance in reducing the adverse consequences of drugs for our society and in making our streets and our homes and our neighborhoods safer for our families," Fournier said.

Over the coming weeks and months, he said, the CICAD group will be considering such matters as which performance indicators will be used, how the review mechanism will be carried out in practice and how often nations will be evaluated. The group will likely meet every two or three months.

Created in 1986, CICAD brings together the highest-level anti-drug officials in each of its member countries. Following the 1994 Summit of the Americas in Miami, it developed a comprehensive "Anti-Drug Strategy in the Hemisphere."

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