May 1, 2000
Hemispheres Anti-Drug Leaders Meet at OAS
With the worldwide demand for illegal drugs on the increase, smaller countries are especially vulnerable not only to drug trafficking but to related problems such as arms smuggling and money laundering, according to the Vice Chairman of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), Lancelot Selman. Speaking today at the opening of CICADs 27th regular session, he stressed the need to protect small, struggling economies from "the dangers of criminal foreign capital."
"The fact is that, fueled primarily by globalization and rapidly advancing technology, the dark cloud of illicit drug trafficking and organized crime looms ever larger over our shrinking global village," said Selman, who is from Trinidad and Tobago. "It has emerged as one of the principal threats to the safety and tranquility of our societies and the exercise of good governance in our democracies."
The countries of the hemisphere must continue to develop their teamwork, with the help of new technologies, to rise to the challenge of confronting these threats, Selman added.
In his remarks at the opening of the meeting, OAS Secretary General CÚsar Gaviria stressed the regions "spirit of cooperation" in anti-drug efforts particularly with the implementation this year of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism, a new tool to measure progress each country is making against illegal drugs.
The evaluation that will be carried out "does not constitute an end, but a means to strengthen hemispheric and international cooperation to eliminate the problem of drugs," Gaviria said, adding that the mechanism will be "a tool to learn from the experiences of others, to fine-tune responses and policies, to design cooperative initiatives."
The three-day CICAD meeting will include presentations on a broad range of topics related to anti-drug efforts, including trends in control and demand in the Americas; demand reduction training programs; and controlled chemical substances. A panel discussion will focus on alternatives to prison for drug-dependent offenders and minor drug-related offenses.
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