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May 5, 1998

Senior drug policy representatives from all around the hemisphere are meeting in Washington, D.C., hoping to lay the groundwork for a multilateral system to "evaluate" the efforts by the countries in the tough war on illegal drugs.

"It would be a very marked move away from the unilateral to a multilateral process," declared Barbados' delegate, Danny Gill, welcoming the joint approach that would be taken by Organization of American States (OAS) member states to craft the new process for a standard review system "which conforms to country needs and concerns and various other things." The effort is being carried out through the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission, a specialized OAS agency.

Chairman of Barbados' National Council on Substance Abuse, Mr. Gill was among Caribbean delegates to the Third Consultative Meeting of CICAD Monday at which the director of the US National Drug Policy Office, General Barry McCaffrey, also spoke.

At the opening session Monday, the Jamaican delegate, Elaine Baker, pointed to the need to ensure that any mechanism devised "should neither be punitive nor sanction imposing." She added that the mechanism should provide avenues for expressing concerns, "be consultative and above all be transparent with clearly defined and agreed goals and objectives." She said it should provide the international community "tangible evidence of each country's performance in the area of drug control."

Mrs. Baker, who is the permanent secretary in the Jamaican National Security Ministry, drew attention to the pressure placed on national budgets to implement the various international drug control schemes--conventions, regulations or plans of action.

A working group was formed Monday with Canada's deputy solicitor general, Jean Fournier, elected as chairman. The working group is responsible for designing the Inter-American Multilateral Mechanism, arising from mandates from the hemisphere's leaders at their recent Summit of the Americas in Chile. The head of Chile's National Council for the Control of Narcotics, Pablo Lagos Puccio, was Tuesday elected vice chairman of the working group.

Delegates leave Washington Friday after the four-day twenty-third regular session of CICAD which followed the Consultative meeting.

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