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OAS Secretary General Opens Meeting of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission

  May 9, 2012

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today opened the 51st Regular Session of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), emphasizing that “we can only fight this problem effectively by working together with a common strategy.” Insulza recalled that last month “the Presidents and heads of government of our Member States, meeting at the Sixth Summit of the Americas, entrusted to the OAS the job of producing a report that analyzes the results of the current policies on drugs and explores new focal points to make them more effective” and pointed out that the mandate that emerged from the Summit “does not ask us for decisions or unique proposals: it asks us to lay out options to strengthen policies. Those options must have a solid basis in evidence.”

Together with the Secretary General, the current Chair of CICAD and Secretary of State in Argentina’s Secretariat for Programming Drug Abuse Prevention and the Fight against Drug Trafficking (SEDRONAR), Rafael Antonio Bielsa, also took part in the ceremony. The regular session of the OAS body will take place for two days in Washington, DC, and will include the participation of representatives of the Member States, experts on the issue of drug abuse, and representatives of other organizations in the Inter-American system, with the objective of dealing with issues such as the current situation regarding the consumption of illicit drugs in the hemisphere, the relationship of drugs with security in the Caribbean and Central America, tendencies in the use of heroin and smokable cocaine, gender perspectives in policies on drug abuse, and international cooperation.

The chief representative of the hemispheric organization pointed out that the damage that drug abuse does to health has been proven, and that behind the sale of illicit drugs is transnational organized crime, and thus, dealing with these interlinked issues requires Member States to work toward common solutions.

Secretary Insulza also emphasized the experience of the people who make up the Commission and their training to deal with the issue. “In this organization, in its Secretariats, lies the greatest experience in terms of political, juridical and security matters to deal with the drug issue. In this CICAD, this Commission, there are 25 years of unceasing work” he said, while recognizing the importance of the collaboration of other organizations in the Inter-American system, in particular the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

For his part, the Chair of CICAD, Rafael Antonio Bielsa, pointed out the need to “rethink the path we’re on,” given that “we find ourselves in a central moment in the approach to the worldwide drug problem, in which many people in our region have raised their voices demanding a critical look at the successes and failures of the strategies and actions that we’ve been carrying out.”

Bielsa emphasized that, faced with the current challenges, “it’s undeniable that the best and most effective answer to the crossroads at which we find ourselves will come from an open and unbiased debate, which faces up to the problems that concern us from a dynamic and multi-disciplinary point of view, with policies backed up by evidence.”

The meeting’s inauguration was also attended by the PAHO Director Mirta Roses Periago, the OAS Secretary for Multidimensional Security Adam Blackwell, CICAD’s Executive Secretary Paul Simons, and representatives of the Member States.

Within the framework of the meeting, Secretary General Insulza and Director Roses signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a Joint Regional Program for Cooperation in the Reduction of Demand for Drugs, aimed at carrying out institutional strengthening activities, as well as training and technical assistance to Member States of both organizations. Likewise, the agreement will establish a mechanism of cooperation between the OAS Secretary General and the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program of the PAHO.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

A video of the event is available here.

The Audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-166/12