Remarks for the 58th Regular Session of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD)

Luis E. Arreaga
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Trujillo, Peru
November 11, 2015

Remarks As Prepared

Thank you for the opportunity to address you this morning. I would like to thank those responsible for making this meeting possible. In particular I’d like to recognize the hard work of the CICAD Executive Secretariat, and the hospitality that’s been extended to us by the Government of Peru.

Drugs intersect with many domestic and trans-national priorities our hemisphere struggles with, from the spread of organized criminal enterprises, to challenges to public health and the rule of law. As a result, losing focus on core priorities of UNGASS is both easy and understandable.

Our ministers agreed on a high-level consensus resolution at the OAS Special General Assembly on Drugs last year on drug policy priorities that are focused, flexible, and feasible.

  • The consensus resolution focuses on the essential and fundamental matter at hand, which is confronting the world drug problem in a comprehensive way;
  • It is flexible as it allows member states to respond in ways sensitive to the challenges they face, using evidence-based approaches that take into consideration their nation’s particular needs; and,
  • It is feasible because it takes into account matters agreed upon by all OAS member states, and on the practical steps we will be asked to take, both individually and collectively, to reduce the damage done by drugs.

This was the measure by which we came to an understanding on the SGA resolution last year: now it’s time to ensure that key objectives of that resolution are part of the final UNGASS outcome document.

  • This begins with an acknowledgement that the understanding of the science behind addiction has increased. This needs to be reflected in how we treat those caught in a cycle of drug abuse, particularly when it comes to treatment and public health policies.
  • We have also come to understand that we can’t simply arrest our way out of this problem: our criminal justice systems needs to respond in a more nuanced way, especially when it comes to low-level offenders.
  • Third, while it has always been true, now more than ever drug trafficking is a global business. Having an increasingly seamless international judicial cooperation and law enforcement response is in the best interest of all governments.
  • Fourth, we need to work towards eliminating drug crops and support licit, sustainable alternative development.
  • Fifth, we must continue to adjust the balance between legitimate access to drugs that can be dangerous or addictive, while ensuring that such drugs are not diverted or misused.
  • Lastly, a growing danger is the increasing prevalence of new psychoactive substances, or NPS. These substances, and the chemicals used to make them and other illicit drugs, represent a truly global threat. Expanding cooperation to identify and control them is critical, as is engaging constructively with the private sector to stop their spread.

We owe it to the OAS, to our member governments, and most importantly to our citizens to focus on targeted, practical outcomes here and over the coming months as we approach UNGASS. United, we can strengthen our collective efforts. Together, we can encourage practical solutions that reflect both important and emerging priorities of all our nations. As we seek to advance these goals, the United States will be a resolute supporter and a strong advocate.

Thank you.