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August 19, 1998

The creation of a multilateral anti-narcotics evaluation system in the hemisphere provides an opportunity for a solid cooperation strategy to totally change the nature of the political debate that has ensued for years, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) CÚsar Gaviria said today.

"I am convinced that proper application of the mechanism could represent the most important rethinking ever on this matter and could yield more results than all our efforts thus far, which have not always been well-coordinated," Gaviria told the opening of the second meeting of the Inter-Governmental Working Group on the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism, at the World Bank.

OAS member country representatives and high-level experts attending the meeting are to consider the principles established for the multilateral evaluation process and the objectives of the mechanism. Discussion will also center around the process and time-table for designing and bringing the Multlateral Mechanism onstream, and proposals and comments received from member countries will be examined as special presentations are made on general concepts surrounding evaluation indicators.

In his presentation, the OAS secretary general explained that the multilateral evaluation system will properly equip the countries to periodically adjust, amend or reinforce their anti-drug policies. "Frankly, I believe the OAS' Inter-American Drug Abuse Control (CICAD) has the capabilities to successfully design and apply this mechanism," Mr. Gaviria added.

The OAS had responsibility for coordinating a major part of the effort to achieve the goals set forth in the Plan of Action from the Santiago Summit of the Americas, he recalled, noting as well that CICAD was honored to have been selected as the first OAS and inter-American body to formally embark on discussions last May to establish the multilateral anti-narcotics evaluation mechanism.

Canadian Jean Fournier, chairman of the CICAD Working Group, stated meanwhile that the work entrusted by the leaders of the hemisphere should be based on the principles of "respect for the territorial sovereignty and jurisdiction of states, reciprocity and domestic laws." Organized by CICAD, the meeting runs until August 21.

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