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    UNIS/SG/2309
    16 July 1999 
    The Secretary-General:
    Remarks on the Occasion of the UN Vienna Civil Society Award Ceremony
    Vienna, 19 July 1999

     

    Mr. Mayor,
    Excellencies,
    Ladies and Gentlemen,

     I am delighted to be here today to launch the United Nations Vienna Civil Society Award. When I took office two and a half years ago, one of my priorities was to expand the role played by the United Nations in the fight against crime and drug abuse. This award, honoring those who have led the struggle for safer communities, is an important addition to those efforts. 

     Worldwide crime and drug addiction are a natural concern of the United Nations. They are global problems, requiring global solutions. Indeed, the spread of these scourges tells a story of the darker side of globalization. We have without doubt reaped many benefits from the technological breakthroughs that have transformed our world. But those same advances have also been exploited for criminal purposes. 

     Capital moves easily across borders, but so too do illicit drugs. The internet allows access to new stores of knowledge, but it also enables the distribution of child pornography. The list of these “problems without passports” goes on: the smuggling of firearms, piracy on international waters, money-laundering, even the traffic in human beings for purposes of sexual abuse or forced labour. All these require our urgent attention.

     The solution is certainly not to roll back globalization. It has proceeded too far and produced too many advantages. The solution must be global partnership and coordination. 

     In pursuing this common cause, the United Nations can serve as a springboard for international collaboration. It was for this purpose that I sought to strengthen the role of the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention in Vienna.

     Under the able leadership of Pino Arlacchi, this office has worked both to reduce the demand for drugs, as well to control its illicit supply. It is engaged in drawing up international legal instruments to fight trans-national organised crime, the traffic in human beings, and corruption. It is supporting concrete action, both at the global and the grass-roots levels. And through its important work, Vienna has been placed very firmly on the United Nations map.

     The United Nations, however, cannot work alone in this endeavour. In almost every aspect of our activities, I have emphasized the importance of partnership with civil society. And in no area is this partnership more essential than in the fight against crime and drug abuse. Everyone has a stake in a world free of these blights. In seeking to make this a reality, we must build strong links with civil society. We must recognize its contributions. We must also celebrate its successes.

     That is why I am so pleased about this evening and this Award. The UN Vienna Civil Society Award highlights important work done across the world to build societies free from the evils of drug abuse and crime. The Award also serves as a symbol of the value the United Nations attaches to cooperation with civil society in this effort. 

     I am also glad to see that the Award has been established through the joint efforts of the United Nations in Vienna, the Government of Austria and the City of Vienna. This once again illustrates the Organisation’s productive relationship with our gracious host city and host country. I thank the Mayor and Governor of Vienna and the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Austria for this, yet another, tangible expression of their support.

     Most importantly, I wish to extend my warm congratulations to the first recipients of the UN Vienna Civil Society Award: the Drug Abuse Prevention Centre in Japan, Fundación Azteca in Mexico, Mr. Rogers Kasirye of Uganda, and Mrs. Shanthi Ranganathan of India. Your quiet heroism in seeking to free people from the shackles of drug addiction serves as an inspiration to us all. On behalf of the international community, I thank you for your efforts and I wish you every success as you carry on your invaluable work. 

     The example of tonight’s award winners shows us that we can reclaim our communities from the tragedies of drug abuse, violence and crime. It requires hard work and perseverance, but, together, we can build a better, safer world for our children.

     Thank you very much.

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