SIRG REPORT: March 9, 1999

Prevention and Control Of Illicit Consumption of and Traffic in Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and other Related Crimes

Overview: Progress since Santiago

The Santiago Summit's declaration and narcotics control action plan are helping to propel many of the counternarcotics efforts in the hemisphere begun after the 1994 Miami Summit to even greater levels of accomplishment. Indeed, important gains against production, trafficking, and use that have been recorded through the beginning of 1999 reflect counternarcotics progress that was unimaginable just a few years ago. Public awareness of the drug threat is growing and government commitment to combat it unilaterally, bilaterally, and multilaterally is up. The increasing focus on multilateral commitment is arguably one of the most important developments that has emerged from the Santiago Summit. The multilateral approach has been helped by the growing recognition that the drug threat is truly ubiquitous; it is no longer a problem to be cast in terms of user and producer countries, but one in which all manifestations of the problem are beginning to affect all countries more evenly. The comprehensive and balanced nature of the Santiago Summit's counternarcotics action plan reflects this recognition.

In broad terms, the major provisions of the action plan call for the creation of a multilateral governmental evaluation process to monitor the progress of individual and collective efforts to combat all aspects of the illicit drug problem as well as calling for stronger national efforts and international cooperation to reduce drug use, to improve and update mechanisms to prosecute and extradite traffickers, to eliminate illicit drug crop cultivation, to control the traffic in firearms, and to curb money laundering. As was the case with the Miami Summit action plan, it will take time to achieve full progress on all of these issues. Nevertheless, the hemisphere has already achieved significant progress on several as highlighted below. A separate paper addresses the anti-money laundering achievements.

The Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism

The signature feature of the Santiago Summit's narcotics control action plan was the commitment to form a hemispheric multilateral evaluation mechanism (MEM). In many regards, this was the logical extension of the 1994 Summit and the 1996 Anti-Drug Strategy in the Hemisphere that resulted from it. The MEM is a unique and ambitious effort in international narcotics control. The intent is to create a multilateral system to examine and assess the adequacy of narcotics control plans and progress toward achieving their goals for each country in the hemisphere. The goal is to focus national efforts and strengthen international cooperation to achieve better results more efficiently.

The political commitment to support this process is solid as reflected in the substantial progress that has already been achieved to create this mechanism. Drawing on the model that was effectively used to produce the Anti-Drug Strategy in the Hemisphere, the OAS Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) established an intergovernmental working group (IWG) of all member countries to develop principles, guidelines, and timeframes for negotiating the MEM. Broadly, the IWG's dual objectives are to develop a set of indicators that would serve as the basis for the evaluations and to decide on the ways and means for conducting the evaluations. CICAD has already hosted four enormously productive IWG meetings; clear accomplishments are in sight for the last half of 1999.

In May 1998, within a month of the Summit, CICAD created the IWG with Canada as the chair and Chile as the vice-chair. The members of the commission began the formal negotiations of the multilateral evaluation process and examined the preliminary documents presented by Argentina, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and the Secretariat. The working group agreed to hold meetings every three months and that it would address, among other topics, the following: a definition of the mechanism's principles and objectives; the procedures and timetable for setting up the mechanism; and selection of the indicators that would be used in the evaluation.

At the second meeting in Washington in August, the countries agreed by consensus to adopt the principles established by the Santiago Summit and the Anti-Drug Strategy in the Hemisphere. They also defined the following objectives that will be used as the basis for the design and implementation of the MEM:

In Honduras for its third meeting in October, the IWG began to tackle the substantive issues of the timeline and procedures for implementing the evaluation mechanism and the evaluation indicators. Specifically, the IWG drafted a "matrix of indicators" to help delineate the evaluation parameters. The matrix addresses, among other requirements, the need for national anti-drug strategies that include provisions for budget development, data collection, and program evaluation, and the need for demand and supply reduction initiatives.

At its fourth meeting in Washington in January, the IWG completed agreement on all of the indicators for future evaluations in the areas of both supply and demand. The countries agreed to a process which will include country reports and experts review, leading to a CICAD final multilateral evaluation of each country on an annual basis to the extent data and resources permit. The CICAD secretariat subsequently published the indicators matrix and a notional flow chart that represents how the evaluation could proceed. (The matrix and flow chart are attached.)

The IWG will meet next in May, with a sixth meeting tentatively planned for the end of August in Canada. The IWG favored the possibility of presenting the MEM's design during the XXVI regular session of CICAD in Montevideo at the end of October or beginning of November 1999. The Group also agreed in principle on the idea on carrying out a pilot evaluation during the year 2000 to be based on a reduced number of indicators.

The comprehensive scope of the MEM will make it an enormously useful and effective instrument in focusing, coordinating, and advancing narcotics and certain other narcotics-related crime control initiatives throughout the hemisphere. Meanwhile, as the MEM negotiations have been occurring, there has been noteworthy progress on other narcotics control fronts that underscores the region's commitment to follow through on the Summit's counternarcotics agenda.

Crop Control

One of the most remarkable achievements continues to be the significant, sustained reduction in coca cultivation and production. Overall coca cultivation and production fell for the third straight year. At 190,800 hectares, cultivation is down nearly 25,000 hectares since 1995 and is at its lowest levels since 1987.1. Coca leaf production approximately 230,000 metric tons-is down 26 percent from 1995, and is at the lowest levels since efforts to keep such statistics started in 1987. These gains are due largely to the implementation of comprehensive strategies that combine both alternative development and enforcement measures aimed at moving growers out of coca and into alternative agriculture or other livelihoods. The gains would have been even greater except that producers are trying to off-set crop control progress by shifting cultivation increasingly into guerrilla-dominated territory where security concerns currently limit the ability to implement alternative development and enforcement programs.

An important crop control advance occurred last fall in Brussels at the Peru donors group consultative meeting organized by the Inter-American Development Bank. There, the United States, the EU, and several other donor countries and organizations pledged over $277 million to support Peru's National Plan of Action for Alternative Development and Demand Reduction from 1999 to 2003. This funding should go a long way toward accelerating the decline in coca cultivation , in Peru--which has plummeted 56 percent in three years--by encouraging growers to abandon coca cultivation in the face of declining prices and deterring them from re-entering the trade at a future date. The pledges reflect how impressed the donors were with the thorough, comprehensive, and balanced plan Peru presented.

National Plans

Several countries are taking steps to develop comprehensive national drug control plans and to develop or strengthen their national drug control commissions. Together, these are one of the key recommendations in the Summit's plan of action. They are similarly the first two indicators addressed by the multilateral evaluation mechanism. Such plans and commissions are essential for organizing, focusing, and budgeting antinarcotics programs and, as demonstrated at the Peru donors group meeting, are extremely valuable in making the case for additional international support.

Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Awareness

The action plan correctly noted the need to pay closer attention to preventing and treating drug abuse. Fragmentary and impressionistic data strongly suggest that drug use patterns throughout the hemisphere are changing and growing more serious in several areas. Several countries are reporting rising levels of cocaine and crack cocaine use. In the United States meanwhile, even though cocaine use remains far below the levels of a decade ago (1.5 million users in 1997, down from 5.7 million in 1985), abuse of heroin, methamphetamines, and other synthetic drugs is up.

Several countries have moved over the past year to improve their understanding of their domestic drug abuse problem so that they can better target resources and plan strategies. Many have conducted their first-ever drug abuse surveys, and others have planned or implemented follow-up surveys to ones they did in the past. These surveys will provide important benchmarks or comparative data that will be instrumental in identifying the nature and scope of the drug problem in the hemisphere. Such surveys, however, must be approached with caution: they can be prohibitively expensive and data collection and analysis can be extremely error-prone even where the most advanced survey and analytical tools are available. Finally, among the first steps many countries have taken after creating their national drug control councils or commissions or developing their national drug control strategies is to set up a program to coordinate and monitor their demand reduction programs. Again, the multilateral evaluation mechanism will likely be able to make significant contributions to how countries plan and administer programs in these areas.

Meanwhile, several multilateral initiatives over the past year have helped advance efforts to combat drug abuse. For instance, the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas (DPNA) and the Government of Japan co-sponsored a major conference last May in Lima on "Global Initiatives on Demand Reduction - the Americas/Asia Dialogue." Some 200 government and non-governmental organization participants from 40 countries attended this conference to share common drug-related problems and exchange experiences and ideas. As a direct outcome of the Santiago Summit, the United States sponsored a month of training for 40 senior Latin American officials, including judges and physicians. The curricula included training in school and community-based drug abuse prevention coalition building and gang prevention as well as counseling methodologies for high risk youth.

Firearms Control

Both the Summit action plan and the MEM matrix of indicators give prominent attention to controlling the traffic in firearms as a way of alleviating the narcotics threat. So far, the Bahamas, Belize, and Mexico have ratified the 1997 OAS Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials. The United States has submitted the Convention to congress for ratification and has meanwhile begun to implement the OAS model regulations on commercial arms transfers. The OAS Convention can serve as a firearms control model for the rest of the world. Last year, the Group of 8 at the Birmingham, England Summit called for prompt negotiation of an international convention to combat the illicit manufacture of and traffic in firearms. In pursuit of this objective, Secretary of State Albright has called for conclusion by the year 2000 of a protocol to the UN transnational crime convention to combat the illicit manufacture of and traffic in firearms, based on the OAS model. Negotiations on this protocol began in Vienna in January 1999.

Caribbean Regional Drug Control Conference

In October 1998, the United States hosted a conference of Caribbean and U.S. counternarcotics officials in Miami that was largely intended to follow-up on the Santiago Summit's call for increased coordinated action. Over 150 officials from the region attended to discuss demand and supply reduction initiatives and means of strengthening national plans and drug control coordinating bodies in the region. The focus was on developing national strategies then coordinating their implementation throughout the region. The conference's working groups reported that supply reduction efforts would be enhanced if countries improved their internal coordinating mechanisms so that law enforcement information could be exchanged more quickly and efficiently among national agencies and between countries. Conversely, the conference concluded that demand reduction initiatives in such areas as epidemiological research and drug abuse surveys would benefit from "'economies of scale" that result from better external coordination among countries.

Support for UNGASS

The agreements reached at the Santiago Summit provided a strong foundation for advancing many of the region's objectives at the June 8 - 10 UN General Assembly Special Session to Counter Together the World Drug Problem (UNGASS). The countries of the region played a particularly strong role in developing the two UNGASS action plans on precursor chemical controls and the eradication of illicit drug crops and alternative development, and on the declaration on the guiding principles of drug demand reduction. As a result of hard negotiations with the European Commission, the UNGASS precursor chemical action plan calls for pre-export notification for potassium permanganate and acetic anhydride-key chemicals for processing cocaine and heroin respectively.

U.S. Initiatives

In February, President Clinton issued the National Drug Control Strategy for 1999. The strategy's long term goal is to achieve a 50 percent reduction in drug use in the United States by 2008, and it seeks to accomplish this through a balanced approach of demand and supply reduction programs. President Clinton is seeking a $17.8 billion FY 2000 appropriation to support this strategy, an increase of $735 million or 4 percent from the regular FY 1999 appropriation. The budget includes significant funding increases for youth prevention programs, including a media campaign ($86 million total increase); a program to break the cycle of drug use by criminal offenders ($100 million increase); significant expansion in treatment and prevention facilities ($85 million increase); intensified interdiction efforts along the Southwest border ($50 million increase) ; and foreign assistance ($29 million increase). Approximately $22 million of the $29 million foreign assistance increase will go to Latin America. This will bring the total counternarcotics foreign assistance budget up to $265 million of which approximately $230 million is for Latin American and Caribbean programs. This is about an 11 percent increase over the FY 1999 budget for this region.

In 1998, the United States produced and published,, as an important companion to its strategy, a comprehensive set of performance measures of effectiveness (PME). The PME report breaks the national strategy down into its 5 broad goals, 32 objectives, and 94 performance targets. The 94 targets state precisely the narcotics control accomplishments the United States hopes to achieve over the near and medium terms. The document is a dynamic tool for evaluating the progress of United States' drug control efforts. It is an evaluation and accountability document submitted to the congress, public, other US Government agencies, and any entity who seeks to track and monitor the United States' narcotics control efforts. Through it, success in achieving the goals of the National Drug Control Strategy will be tracked and measured. It will allow policy makers, program managers, and the public to know where the United States stands and where it should be headed with its counterdrug programs.


Despite making progress towards a counternarcotics alliance against drugs, and achieving significant recent gains against production, trafficking, and abuse the hemisphere continues to face serious narcotics challenges. Criminals are still making enormous sums of money off of the illicit narcotics trade, enough to inspire them to continue shifting routes, looking for new markets and producing areas, and bribing and intimidating officials into protecting their operations. The shift of coca cultivation into guerrilla-dominated areas of Colombia where heightened security risks complicate implementation of narcotics control programs is one such development. A related development appears to be increased cocaine processing in Peru and Bolivia and possibly more trafficking to Europe and North America through the southern cone of Latin America. Increased seizure statistics and other indicators also suggest there is more overland transit going through Central America, increasing the prospects of greater drug crime activity in these countries.

On balance, however, the trends are moving strongly in our favor. The traffickers are clearly on the defensive as a result of the stronger, more comprehensive, and better balanced and coordinated operations the hemisphere has been able to mount against the threat in recent years. The prospects of accelerating these gains and becoming the model for enhanced counternarcotics cooperation for the rest of the world are great so long as we sustain this focus and commitment.