3 Dezember 2001


VIENNA, 3 December (UN Information Service) – The UN in Vienna, along with the Austrian Government and the City of Vienna, will honour three individuals and one organisation for their "outstanding contributions to the global campaign against drug abuse, crime and terrorism" at a ceremony on Wednesday, 5 December, in the Vienna City Hall.

In formulating a global response to the ever-globalising problem of what Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called the struggle between "civil society and uncivil society", the UN has increasingly sought to reinforce its partnerships with people addressing those threats at the grassroots level. Thus, the UN Vienna Civil Society Award was inaugurated in 1999 by the three co-sponsors.

The presentation will take place on 5 December 2001 from 7 - 8 p.m., attended by Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl and Pino Arlacchi, Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna.

The four recipients of this year’s Award – chosen from more than 100 nominees from around the world – are:

  • Saida Benhabyles has focussed her civil society efforts in Algeria on human rights, women’s rights and working with victims of terrorism. Despite continuous death threats from Algerian terrorist groups and her daughter’s kidnapping, she remained active and was the driving force behind the Federation of Associations of Victims of Terrorism. She was praised by the then French President, François Mittérrand in 1994 for her role in the fight against terrorism and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. Among the many posts she has held were Minister in charge of National Solidarity and member of the national Senate.
  • Athanase Rwamo, after witnessing the effects of war on children in Burundi, founded Oeuvres Humanitaire pour la Protection et le Dévelopement de L’Enfant en Difficulté (OPDE) to protect children from hunger, exploitation and the effects of drug abuse. Recognizing the link between drug abuse and HIV/AIDS, he organised a second NGO, "Association pour la Prise en Charge des Orphelins du SIDA (APECOS)," to care for children whose parents have died from AIDS. Through Mr. Rwamo’s initiative, 400 children were integrated into stable family structures, nearly 300 were housed in 10 shelters and more than 200 have found employment thanks to vocational training provided by the two NGOs.
  • Veronica Colondam, deeply concerned about rising drug abuse cases in her country, Indonesia, joined forces with several other individuals to found Yayasab Cinta Amak Bangsa (YCAB), which means "loving the nation’s children". Among the means used to communicate the group’s preventive messages is its youth band "Youth Against Drug Abuse (YADA)" that has spread the UNDCP’s theme "Turn on music, turn off drugs" to more than 120 schools in Sumatra, Java and Bali. Millions of Indonesians were reached via public service announcements on four television stations. In 20 months, the organization had one-on-one interactions with more than 100,000 students, has set up exhibitions in Jakarta’s shopping malls and had spoken at churches, mosques, hospitals, army bases and public meetings.
  • Instituto Mundo Libre, a Peruvian non-governmental organization which assists the nation’s youth – particularly street children – to escape from drug abuse. The programme has an 89 per cent success rate and has rehabilitated more than 700 street children. It has also trained some 65,000 people in 14 Peruvian cities on the prevention and treatment of drug abuse.

The winners will each receive a special medallion, a personalised certificate and a share of $100,000 in prize money.

Commenting on the Award, Mr. Arlacchi, who is also Executive Director of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), said: "In the fields of drug abuse and crime prevention the UN cannot depend solely on the actions of governments. To turn around the hearts and minds of all the world’s citizens, we are counting on local organisations and dedicated grassroots leaders to be involved in their communities. The Civil Society Award focuses world attention on those who have found successful ways to reach their fellow human beings."

Discount accommodation for the award recipients has been provided by the Vienna Marriott Hotel.

For interview requests and access to the ceremony please contact:

Cherine Rahmy, UNDCP External Relations Unit,
Tel: +43 1 26060 5575


Email: crahmy@undcp.org