Media Center



November 29, 2006 - Santa Cruz, Bolivia

His Excellency Walker San Miguel Rodriguez, Minister of Defense of Bolivia
Ambassador Mauricio Dorfler Ocampo, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Bolivia and Chair of CICAD
General Paulo Roberto Yog de Miranda Uchoa, National Anti-Drug Secretary of Brazil and Vice Chair of CICAD
Distinguished Delegates and Government Officials
Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Representatives of the International Community
Executive Secretary of CICAD, Mr. James Mack
Assistant Executive Secretary of CICAD, Mr. Abraham Stein
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Twenty years ago, government representatives from throughout the Western Hemisphere assembled in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to consider how best the Hemisphere could confront the threat posed by illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs.

This meeting produced a forward-looking document aptly titled the “Inter-American Program of Action of Rio de Janeiro against the Illicit Use and Production of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Traffic Therein”. It also called for the creation of a regional agency that would eventually become the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission which today we know as CICAD.

In November of that same year, the OAS General Assembly approved the Program of Action of Rio and created the CICAD, investing it with the responsibility for developing, coordinating, and evaluating the efforts of member states to transform the Program of Action into concrete, broad-based counter-drug policies, programs and projects.

That document constituted a blueprint for a hemispheric strategy to control the growing of and trafficking in illicit crops, as well as focus attention on the reduction or elimination of drug abuse. That ground breaking document also included several other important elements:

1. It called on governments to address all aspects of the drug problem, especially that of demand reduction, and placed Inter-American drug control policies fairly and squarely within the context of social-economic development, respect for human rights and for the traditions and customs of national and regional groups and environmental protection;

2. It asked that all member states create national drug control commissions;

3. It encouraged member states to modernize and harmonize domestic legislation within the framework of international treaties and conventions; and

4. It underscored the importance of setting a hemispheric drug information network and uniform statistical system.

This document remains a crucial benchmark and instrument of successful multilateralism. It also stands as testimony to the power of the political will of member states to promote a comprehensive, systemic approach to the problem, thereby creating a voluntary obligation on themselves as member states, and on other stakeholders to work together.

Today, the Rio document still serves as a cornerstone of a broad-based hemispheric approach to address the issue of illicit drug trafficking.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to take a few moments to examine some of CICAD’s achievements since its founding.

1. The Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (the MEM) is now recognized by CICAD’s member states as a useful tool for assessing anti-drug efforts and for pinpointing areas where improvements can be made.

2. With the support of CICAD, most member states now have functioning financial intelligence units (FIUs) which help to alert law enforcement agencies to potential cases of money laundering and related activities.

3. Model laws and regulations on matters such as money laundering, chemical precursor substances and small firearms, drafted by CICAD expert groups drawn from throughout the Hemisphere and approved by the Commission, have been adopted by member states.

4. Almost all of CICAD’s 34 member states now have National Drug Commissions to coordinate national drug policy.

5. CICAD has been successful in creating standardized methodologies for use by member states to measure drug use by their citizens, as well as the cost of drugs to society. These are important building blocks in designing solid policy decisions and effective program actions.

6. CICAD has been helping member states develop minimum standards in drug treatment; as well as guidelines for building comprehensive drug treatment systems that can be integrated into national care systems; and has been instrumental in developing hemispheric guidelines for school-based prevention programs.

7. Both the Supply Reduction and Money Laundering Control sections offer specialized courses to frontline law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and financial analysts on how to investigate, bring to trial and convict members of transnational criminal drug trafficking organizations that are involved in increasingly sophisticated operations. It is noteworthy that numerous training and education initiatives have also been implemented in prevention and treatment of drug abuse.

8. CICAD, despite limited resources, continues to explore new ways to support alternative development in areas where illicit drug crops are grown.;

9. CICAD has acquired an outstanding reputation through its productive partnerships with other international organizations; and continues to develop strong linkages with donors and other stakeholders, such as France, Spain, Turkey, Japan, the Bahamas, Mexico, the United States, and Canada. I am also pleased to note that member states have also assumed greater responsibilities through horizontal cooperation projects. In this regard I must make mention of sub-regional efforts, such as the meeting held in October in the Caribbean, initiated by the Government of the Republic of Suriname, which brought together 10 countries and multilateral agencies to discuss sub-regional collaboration within the hemispheric framework. The Paramaribo Declaration is an example of how this collaborative effort can lead to strengthened coordination in the fight against illegal drug trafficking.

10. Finally, I am pleased to report that CICAD has evolved into a collegial institution in which member states have learned to work together productively, without the excesses of rhetoric or antagonism, to the point where CICAD’s approach is now held up as an example worthy of emulation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, CICAD has reviewed and renewed its founding document before, particularly when it drew on the 1986 Program of Action of Rio to develop the 1996 Drug Strategy in the Hemisphere, where member states recognized their ‘shared responsibility’ for ensuring that a comprehensive and balanced approach is taken on all aspects of the drug problem.

CICAD also later completed a comprehensive review of the MEM’s guidelines, procedures and indicators to make it into a more streamlined and relevant process. The new process is now being implemented in the fourth round of evaluation. Such exercises are invaluable in order that the Commission can reenergize itself; to maintain its relevance; and to improve its ability to understand and interpret the needs of its member states.

I wish to underline that drug abuse -- and its related consequences of joblessness, lost productivity, family disintegration, crime, and violence -- represents a significant risk factor for societies, and weakens the potential of vulnerable young children and youth whose development is most intricately connected to the debilitating effects of poverty. If not effectively contained and tackled the illicit drug trafficking can damage the very fabric of our societies and its democratic underpinnings.

Confronting the drug problem in all its manifestation requires an integrated approach involving prevention, treatment and law enforcement.

Although we recognize that CICAD has come a long way in its two decades of service to the Americas, I would welcome a focused and timely revision of the CICAD strategy and programs which would allow member states to renew and reinvigorate their commitment to the mission and goals of CICAD. It should also be an opportunity for member states to reflect purposefully on whether their own national drug commissions are working optimally to address the local needs and make them effective partners in the area of international cooperation.

I believe that it would also enable member states to consider, or reconsider as necessary, the effectiveness of their national regulatory frameworks and to see where it can be amended or strengthened. Illicit drug trafficking is adapting to national mechanisms to fight it and remains a very lucrative business with the ability to permeate every layer of society. Those who profit from the illicit trade are constantly looking for ways to evade detection and prevention mechanisms.

Member states must therefore strive to stay ahead of the traffickers - in all aspects - and with all remedies available to them. The regulatory and legislative mechanisms available to governments must evolve to be able to respond appropriately to the offenses. By this I mean, that laws should facilitate not complicate efforts by law enforcement to confiscate the proceeds of illicit enterprise. In addition, measures must be put in place to ensure that weak or vague laws, and judicial loopholes do not become the very tools that traffickers use to flout the law and evade prosecution.

I firmly support the call for member states to examine thoroughly how best to ensure the long-term viability of this Commission whose continued effectiveness and credibility will depend, to a large extent, on the concrete commitment of member states. It is never a healthy practice for any organization to rely too heavily on a relatively small number of members to underwrite its activities.

Six months ago, Secretary General Insulza suggested to the Commission that member states set aside a small percentage of the revenue acquired through the confiscation of assets from drug traffickers and money launderers and to apply these funds to CICAD’s operations, especially in the area of training and capacity-building activities. It is encouraging to note that several member states have expressed willingness to change their domestic laws and regulations relative to the management and disposition of seized assets so that portions of that revenue can be applied to national drug prevention and control measures, as well as to underwrite CICAD’s programs and activities.

Ladies and gentlemen, the extent of the task before us is immense. But the success of the Commission is a much bolder testament of the power of collaboration. The accomplishments of the CICAD indeed reflect the ongoing commitment of member states. As we study trends in supply, demand and prevention we cannot afford to be intimidated or to relent in the task before us. I urge member states to give the Commission the tools to better assist them in their domestic agenda and with their international commitments.

At the Organization of American States, we want CICAD to continue the important work of assisting member states to conduct surveys of drug use; support governments in the strengthening of national drug commissions; operationalize effective national drug plans; advise on national laws; develop model regulations on subjects such as money laundering, precursor chemical and firearms control; develop demand reduction post-secondary education programs; strengthen the on-line masters program in drug control studies and facilitating greater access to this program; extend neighborhood crime policing projects; promote alternative development programs that encourage new agricultural activities to reduce drug production and sustain productive use of land redistribution; provide crucial training of law enforcement officials including judges and prosecutors in money laundering prevention and control.

Continuing and building on this track record requires patience and resources. I hope that we will have both.

I wish also to reemphasize the importance of information sharing and the exchange of best practices. All of these elements I have just mentioned are an important step of not merely keeping pace but, more importantly, in staying ahead in this important fight.

Finally, let me use this opportunity to congratulate and thank Ambassador Mauricio Dorfler for his strong leadership as Chair of CICAD which culminates in the commemoration of this the 20th anniversary of CICAD. I would also like to express appreciation to our own OAS colleagues in this area, so effectively led by Mr. James Mack for their excellent work.

I would also like to thank the government of Bolivia for hosting this meeting, we are indeed pleased to be here in Santa Cruz and we look forward to exploring new ways to work together.

Ladies and Gentlemen, through you, I am grateful to your governments for the tremendous efforts already dedicated to this task. I wish you a successful meeting and I trust that it will mark a renewal of your faith and commitment in the CICAD and its work.

Thank you.