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May 5



Testing is expected to begin by early next year on indicators to assess how the hemisphere’s nations are doing in the war on illegal drugs. Canada’s Deputy Solicitor General, Jean Fournier, made the announcement at a press conference at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington today.

The indicators are part of a comprehensive Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM) being developed through the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD). They cover four broad categories—national plans and strategies, prevention treatment, reduction of drug production and improved law enforcement measures. "The indicators are the drivers of the proposed mechanism…. Without them progress is impossible to gauge," said Fournier, who is Chairman of the CICAD Inter-Governmental Working Group on the MEM.

"The results will help us to fine-tune the Mechanism and the indicators, and allow us to make any adjustments and improvement that will be required," he said of this first round of evaluation. He added that the testing was expected to be completed in time so the MEM can be submitted for consideration by the hemisphere’s leaders when they gather for their next Summit in Canada late next year or early 2001. "At that time the leaders of the 34 countries of the hemisphere will have in their hands… a mechanism that has been tested on the ground to help them tackle the drug problem and create healthier and safer communities across the hemisphere."

On CICAD member country efforts to curb illegal drug use trafficking, Fournier explained that "The MEM will help member states determine what is working well and what can be improved." He stressed that "It will also allow for the sharing of [the] best practices and provide a common and objective means to help strengthen national drug strategies as well as multilateral cooperation."

He said "the past year has been an extremely busy one and a productive one" since the Working Group began, with agreement now worked out in three key areas: the nature and scope of the Evaluation Mechanism; evaluation indicators; and the first round of evaluation. He also spoke of significant gains against drug production, trafficking and abuse in the Americas since the 1994 Miami Summit of the Americas.

In his progress report, the Canadian official particularly highlighted one of the seven key objectives he said was central to their work: states would get support to execute their national plans and would be assisted in boosting their capacity to confront the drug problem, and technical assistance and training would be spurred. When it comes into operation, the multilateral evaluation mechanism will fully respect the countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, Fournier emphasized.

The press conference, attended by Vice Chairman of the Working Group, Mr. Pablo Lagos, and CICAD Executive Secretary David Beall, was held as the OAS drug agency was meeting in regular session in Washington.