David T. Johnson
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Washington, DC
May 3, 2010

CICAD Commissioners, [Secretary General Insulza,] ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske, Dr. Santokhi and friends:

This is my last formal meeting as chair of the CICAD Commission. I have been delighted and humbled to head this group during such an important phase of its work. The quality of the work that CICAD has accomplished through its members’ joint combined efforts during the past year is impressive. I look forward to the additional hard work ahead before we meet next November. We continue to make progress, but we all understand that ours is not a job with a natural conclusion, and we can never let our guard down in terms of the CICAD Commission’s mandate.

We have a busy agenda and extremely important tasks to accomplish during our three-day meeting. Our work will include approval of the updated Anti-Drug Strategy for the Hemisphere and adoption of the work plan to complete its companion document, the revised CICAD Commission Plan of Action for implementation by our Executive Secretariat. We will also complete our Annual Report, a primary CICAD resolution for the upcoming OAS General Assembly, and a second resolution to highlight the importance of our Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM), and the “2010 MEM Report on Recommendations,” which analyses our countries’ concrete achievements since the MEM’s inception over 10 years ago. All of these documents will be made available to the OAS General Assembly meeting next month in Lima.

Since the beginning of his Administration, one of President Obama’s key foreign policy objectives has been to find ways to work with other countries through international institutions to deal with our global challenges. CICAD, with its 34-member states, has proven an invaluable forum to address the problems of drug cultivation, trafficking, and abuse in our hemisphere. I look forward to working with you over these next three days. I especially look forward to continuing our discussion from Miami on the issues of drug prevention, treatment, and recovery.

Policies and programs in all of our countries have the essential goal of changing peoples’ attitudes so that they avoid using illegal drugs in the first place. But we also want to make sure we have good treatment options and other programs to help them on the road to recovery and normal lives if they have developed problems with substance abuse and want to overcome them. That is why prevention and treatment go hand in hand. They are neither substitute for one another nor does one do treatment when prevention fails. They are two sides of the same coin.

We welcome comments from OAS Secretary General Insulza, who has been extremely supportive of CICAD and its mission including our Updated Anti-Drug Strategy for the Hemisphere. And we are especially interested in hearing Dr. Santokhi’s presentation on drug control as part of a comprehensive national security strategy.

We look forward to a productive and informative meeting. Now, it is my pleasure to introduce the Director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, Dr. Gil Kerlikowske.