Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Ja: OAS and drug certification

THE ANNUAL unilateral global drug certification programme, introduced by the United States Congress in 1986, has been repeatedly criticised for being arbitrary and one-sided, and an assessment which does not hold the United States to the same level of accountability to which it holds other countries.

Besides, it is regarded as subjective, accusatory, smacking of double standards and in effect, amounting to the United States, which is the world's largest consumer of illegal drugs, evading the same public examination it demands of others.

To counter this, it was suggested by other leading countries in the hemisphere, that the U.S. President should, instead, convene a conference of heads of government of major illicit drug-producing countries, major drug-transit countries and major money-laundering countries to present and review each country's drug reduction and prevention strategies.

GLOBAL DRUG PROBLEM

However, in 1998, heads of state and heads of government of the Americas came up with the idea of a Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM), as a tool to measure the progress of anti-drug efforts taken by the 34 members of the Organisation of American States, country by country, to combat the global drug problem and related crimes, and to provide the balance found lacking in the United States' certification programme.

Under the terms of the MEM, which is conducted under the direction of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commis-sion, a specialised agency of the Organisation of American States, known as CICAD, its Spanish acronym, each member-state appoints a drug-policy expert to help assess the nature of the drug threat in the other 33 countries. To ensure objectivity, national experts do not participate in the evaluation of their own countries.

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