CARIFORUM states to build capacity to respond to drug problem

From the CARICOM Secretariat

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Representatives of the Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) will hold technical discussions on the 7th Round of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM) process Feb. 7 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The one-day technical meeting will be followed by two days of intense training Feb. 8-9 with senior policy-makers and technical staff from a number of line ministries in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the establishment of its National Drug Council and on the MEM.

MEM is a process designed to measure the progress of actions taken by OAS member states to address the drug problem. The use of illicit drugs continues to rise in CARIFORUM countries and a review of the MEM points to a lack of institutional capacity.

The technical meeting on the MEM 7th Round process, and the training workshops with stakeholders, are part of the response under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Crime and Security Programme between the European Union and CARIFORUM. The drug demand reduction component of the programme seeks to strengthen institutional capacity of national and regional drug demand reduction entities and practitioners to effectively develop strategies and implement policies and programmes in CARIFORUM.

The meetings and workshops are specifically aimed at strengthening national capacity and systems for monitoring and evaluation. In this light, stated objectives include the following:

  • foster a deeper understanding of the MEM process, particularly its seventh round, which commence in 2018
  • outline the impact on the design and implementation of hemispheric drug policies
  • provide a forum where the Caribbean countries can discuss areas of interest in counter drug efforts within the region and feasible areas of cooperation

A number of regional and international agencies and bodies have partnered to hold these events, which target permanent secretaries and technical officers from the government ministries and agencies, national coordinating entities and other technical people engaged in illicit drug matters. Partners include the Secretariat of the Caribbean Community in collaboration with the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the European Union and the Organisation of American States/Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (OAS/CICAD).

The importance of partnership and collective approaches were underscored last month at the launch of the 10th EDF CARIFORUM/EU Crime and Security Programme in Barbados. CARICOM and CARIFORUM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque in his remarks called for “closer collaboration and a strengthening of the relationships in and between institutions charged with responsibility for crime and security” to respond to the trafficking of drugs, which he noted was “the driving force for the high rates of crime and violence” in the region.

Ambassador Daniela Tramacere, head of EU delegation for Barbados and the OECS, too noted in her remarks that “regional integration and collective security mechanisms are imperative given the scarcity of resources required to address such a multiplicity of security issues.”

The series of meetings and workshops with stakeholders on the MEM 7th Round process will be held at the Sunset Shores Beach Hotel, Kingstown. It begins at 9 a.m. with a brief opening ceremony in which the keynote address will be given by the Minister of Health the Hon. Robert T.L.V. Browne, Minister of Health Wellness and the Environment, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States (CARIFORUM) is the body that comprises Caribbean ACP states for the purpose of promoting and coordinating policy dialogue, cooperation and regional integration, mainly within the framework of the Cotonou Agreement between the ACP and the European Union and also the CARIFORUM-European Community Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). There are 16 participating states: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, Saint Lucia, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

All participating states, with the exception of Cuba, are signatories to both the ACP/European Union Cotonou Agreement and the CARIFORUM-European Community Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). In this regard, they benefit directly from regional resources under Caribbean Regional Indicative Programmes financed by the European Development Fund (EDF) and also belong to the preferential trade arrangement with the European Union. The group also allows observer status for other Caribbean territories, including the following British and Dutch Overseas Territories and Countries (OCTs) that have observer status in CARIFORUM: Anguilla, Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, Netherlands Antilles; and the following French Overseas departments in the Caribbean (DOMs) that also have observer status in CARIFORUM: French Guiana Guadeloupe and Martinique.

The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) is the consultative and advisory body of the Organization of American States (OAS) on the hemispheric drug issue. Through its annual programming and wide range of projects in the hemisphere, CICAD provides technical assistance to member states in strengthening their drug policies by conducting in-depth research, evaluation, data collection and analysis on drug-related issues and emerging trends. The Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM), mandated from the 1998 Summit of the Americas, is a process designed to measure the progress of actions taken by OAS member states to address the drug problem. The MEM evaluates and seeks to improve national and hemispheric drug policies and actions, and has produced 380 national and hemispheric reports since its establishment. The seventh round, which will evaluate 34 OAS member states, has now commenced, with all country evaluation reports due to be published in 2019. Within this framework, the Regional Meeting for Policymakers and Heads of National Drug Authorities on the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM) 7th Round Process for the Caribbean is a joint effort of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), CICAD, and the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to provide in-depth awareness of the MEM process to the relevant permanent secretaries and heads of drug authorities.