Chapter 8, Section 481 (h) of the Foreign Assistance Act, known as the Certification Law, links the provision of foreign aid to positive drug-control performance. The law also requires the president to certify whether major drug-producing and drug-transit countries have ''cooperated fully'' with the United States, or have taken adequate steps on their own, to prevent illicit drug production, drug trafficking, drug-related Money Laundering, and drug-related corruption. A later amendment to the act requires countries to take adequate steps to implement the 1988 United Nations Drug Convention. Four outcomes of the certification statute deliberation are possible: (1) full and unconditional certification; (2) qualified certification for countries that would not otherwise qualify on the grounds that the national interest of the United States requires the provision of foreign assistance; (3) denial of certification; or (4) congressional disapproval of a presidential certification, which causes statutory sanctions to be imposed.

The annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) is prepared by the U.S. Department of State and provides the factual basis for the president's decision on certification. The certification statute introduces the concept of variability, by using phrases such as ''cooperated fully,'' ''taken adequate steps,'' and ''maximum achievable reductions.'' Judgments on a country's relative capability to perform are important factors in making certification decisions; each March, these generate spirited debate between the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government. In addition, this very public decision-making produces tensions between the U.S. and the countries in question.

(See also: Drug Interdiction; International Drug Supply Systems; Transit Countries for Illicit Drugs)


Bureau of International Narcotics and Law, U.S. Department of State. (1999). International narcotics control strategy report (INCSR). Washington, DC: Author.

Foreign Assistance Act, as amended 1961, ch. 8, sec 481 (h). Washington, DC: U.S. Congress.

Perl, R. F. (1989). Congress and international narcotics control. CRSReportfor Congress (October 16). Washington, DC: Library of Congress.

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2000). National Drug Control Strategy: 2000 Annual Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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