Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD)

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
March 7, 2014


The creation of CICAD was recommended by Specialized Conference on Traffic in Narcotic Drugs held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in April 1986. In November of the same year, the OAS General Assembly held in Guatemala City in November 1986, established CICAD and approved its Statute in resolution AG/RES. 813 (XVI-0/86). The Assembly further approved the aforementioned Inter-American Program of Action of Rio de Janeiro as CICAD’s working framework and guiding principles. It was determined that CICAD's purpose would be to promote and facilitate multilateral cooperation to control the production, abuse, and traffic in illicit drugs and related crimes.

CICAD was established under the residual clause of Article 53 of the OAS Charter which provides for the establishment of such "subsidiary organs, agencies and other entities as are considered necessary". In Article 1 of its Statute CICAD is empowered with "technical autonomy in the performance of its functions, within the limits of the Charter of the Organization, this Statute and the Regulations and the mandates of the General Assembly".

CICAD was initially composed of 11 member states elected for an indefinite period by the General Assembly and now comprises the 34 member states of the Organization. Each member state appoints a Principal Representative and Alternate representative and such advisors as it deems necessary. The Commission has a Chairman and Vice-Chairman elected from among its member states to hold office for each year. By practice, the Vice-Chairman has succeeded the Chairman each year.

Each member country has one vote, however, by practice, decisions of the Commission are usually reached by consensus. Permanent observer member countries of the OAS and technical experts on various subject matters may attend the meetings of the Commission and address the meeting with the Commission’s approval

The Commission’s headquarters are situated at the OAS in Washington D.C. The Commission meets twice a year, once at headquarters and by practice once in the country of the Chairman although special sessions may be held whenever and wherever the Commission may decide. The costs of representatives to attend meetings of the Commission are born by the individual countries.

The Commission has an Executive Secretariat consisting of an Executive Secretary, an Assistant Executive Secretary and such professional and administrative staff as is authorized under the program-budget of the Organization. Over time, however, owing to OAS budgetary limitations, much of the Secretariat’s work is performed by contracted staff supported by donor contributions to the programs and projects of the Commission.

The Executive Secretariat is the technical and operating and coordinating arm of the Commission with responsibility for carrying out the Commission’s decisions and executing its programs.

The initial structure for the Commission’s priorities were set out in the Inter-American Program of Action of Rio de Janeiro of 1986 and the Declaration and Program of Action of Ixtapa approved by the OAS General Assembly in 1990 consisting of a 20-point Plan of Action to implement Rio Program. The following year the General Assembly endorsed the Inter-American Program of Quito: Comprehensive Education to Prevent Drug Abuse.

As CICAD has grown and as the nature and focus of the drug question has evolved two other major instruments now guide much of CICAD’s current activities. In response to the June 1997, mandate of the General Assembly, CICAD negotiated, at a hemisphere-wide level and adopted in May 1998 the Anti-Drug Strategy in the Hemisphere and a Plan of Action for its implementation.

The Second Summit of the Americas, held in Santiago, Chile in April 1998, entrusted to CICAD the development and implementation of a singular and objective process of multilateral governmental evaluation, to deal with the diverse manifestations of the drug problem. The Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM) has become a cornerstone activity of the Commission and its Executive Secretariat.

The Executive Secretary and Assistant Executive Secretary are persons of trust designated by the Secretary General of the Organization. As with the Executive Secretary and the Assistant Executive Secretary, the professional staff members are persons highly versed in various facets of the subject matter of drugs.

The work of the Executive Secretariat is carried out under the direction of the Executive Secretary in the following areas: Alternative Development; Legal Development; Institution Building; Demand Reduction, Supply Reduction; Money Laundering and the Inter-American Observatory’s drug information network.

The Executive Secretariat performs the tasks associated with the programs and projects and technical and administrative tasks assigned by the Commission in the above areas. The variety of these tasks ranges from assisting countries to conduct surveys of drug use, supporting governments to establish national drug commissions and put into effect national drug plans, advising on national laws, developing model regulations on subjects such as money laundering, precursor chemical and firearms control, developing demand reduction post-secondary education programs, an on-line masters program in drug control studies, neighborhood crime policing projects, alternative development programs providing for new agricultural activities to reduce drug production and productive use of land redistribution and training judges and prosecutors in money laundering prevention and control. Depending on the activity they have been carried out at regional, national and local levels.