Media Center



November 19, 1999 - Washington, DC

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you this afternoon to the House of the Americas, to witness the signature of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism by Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Saint Lucia. With their important contribution, they are consolidating the most significant change in the way we approach our common struggle against drug abuse and drug trafficking.

The MEM embodies a fundamental shift in the rhetoric of discussions on the drug problem. Through our achievements it is evident that we have left behind years of confrontation and acrimonious recriminations and instead, have embarked on a new cooperative and constructive dialogue that yields an operational framework in which we will join efforts to confront this major threat to the wellbeing of our peoples. We are now speaking a common language. We share a common vision, a vision of our societies free from the devastating effects of drugs.

This new spirit of common ideals can be traced back to the Summit of the Americas process. In Miami, in 1994, our leaders agreed on the principle of shared responsibility, and reciprocity, as well as on the idea of cooperation as the cornerstone of any program aiming at stopping the transnational movement of illegal drugs. Two years later, following the Heads of State mandate, member States adopted a comprehensive and balanced Anti-Drug Strategy for the Hemisphere. This Strategy represented a key commitment to address all aspects of the drug problem. It set out four basic elements, namely strengthening anti-drug plans; prevention and treatment; reduction of drug production and improved law enforcement, as well as specific policies to control money laundering and the illegal misuse of chemicals for drug production.

Last year, at the Santiago Summit, Presidents and Prime Ministers decided to take a revolutionary step further. They mandated CICAD to establish a mechanism to evaluate and strengthen individual and collective efforts against drugs. In an extraordinarily expedite process over a period of less than two years, member States worked on the design of such a mechanism, with the active and able support of CICAD. The result, the MEM, is the concretization of the Anti-drug Strategy. It is based on the principles of shared responsibility, respect for national sovereignty and an integrated, balanced and comprehensive approach to the drug problem.

With 82 different indicators, the MEM is a singular, governmental and objective process that involves the full participation of all member States. Its design ensures its transparency, impartiality and equality, guaranteing an objective evaluation, with the full and timely participation of the States, and based upon mutually accepted rules and procedures that have been previously established. Most importantly, the Mechanism is not set to sanction nor to blame any country. On the contrary, its main purpose is to create a forum to openly discuss how to improve our efforts, to share best practices and to learn from each other in a collective manner. The MEM is geared at, and stems from, strengthening mutual confidence, dialogue and hemispheric cooperation.

Its implementation is already under way. Member States must now designate their experts who will be responsible for the analysis of the information provided by governments. The process will be, once again, a dialogue between the experts and the national authorities. The outcome will be 34 national and one hemispheric report that will be presented to CICAD. Therefore, the role that CICAD will have to accomplish is a more political one. The MEM should become the compass that will orient and guide our national and collective decisions to improve our shared efforts to free our societies from the burden of drugs. CICAD will be the forum in which such improvements and progress will be decided.

As I invite you to sign the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism, let me congratulate you for the efforts and ideas you contributed to making this a reality. The commitment and political willingness demonstrated by all 34 member States augurs a better future for our peoples, free of the scourge of drugs.

Thank you