Press Releases

17 December 2002


Fourth United Nations Vienna Civil Society Awards to be presented
At Austrian Foreign Ministry

VIENNA, 17 December (UN Information Service) -- Two individuals and two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in the global fight against drugs and crime are this year’s winners of the United Nations Vienna Civil Society Awards. They will be honoured at a ceremony hosted by the Austrian Foreign Minister, Benita Ferrero-Waldner tonight.

The awards are given annually to those who have made an outstanding contribution to promote civil society by combating drug abuse, crime and terrorism. The awards were established in 1999 by the three co-sponsors, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (ODC), the Austrian Government and the City of Vienna.

Commenting on this year’s winners, the Executive Director of the Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said: "Partnerships with civil society associations and individuals like our award winners is a crucial part of our mission. I salute the great courage and dedication of our winners and I hope their efforts will act as a spur to others to take up the challenge of making their own communities a better place to live by tackling drugs and crime."

The winners from Lithuania, Pakistan, Romania and South Africa who were chosen from more than 200 nominees worldwide, will receive a medal, a personalized certificate and a share of $100,000 prize money.

The Missing Persons Families Support Centre in Lithuania which was founded in 1996, is at the forefront of raising awareness about the problem of trafficking in human beings. It provides assistance to the families of victims in Lithuania and helps to reintegrate victims of trafficking back into society. It is the only NGO in the country helping trafficking victims and it opened its first shelter in Vilnius last year. It also runs a 24-hour hotline offering information to those wishing to work or move abroad. Most of its 12 staff work voluntarily for the centre.

Dr. Parveen Azam Khan is a medical doctor from Pakistan who set up a non-profit organization for drug addicts ten years ago. The DOST Welfare Foundation offers treatment and rehabilitation for drug addicts and reaches out to the most vulnerable and marginalized people and helps to reintegrate them back into society. As the President and Director of DOST, Dr. Khan is the driving force behind the organization which is professionally staffed and runs several treatment centres and programmes which have benefited thousands of drug addicts and their families in Pakistan.

The non-governmental organization CONCORDIA based in Romania was established in 1991 by an Austrian Jesuit priest, Father Georg Sporchill to address the problem of street children and to reduce levels of youth crime. CONCORDIA has built 20 shelters which have been a home for more than 400 children and adolescents who were previously living on the street and often abusing drugs. CONCORDIA aims to educate and reintegrate the street children and disadvantage youth into mainstream society.

Irvin Kinnes from South Africa has been committed to addressing the root causes of crime and gang violence and finding creative ways to combat it. He is the founding member of the Western Cape Anti-Crime Forum (WCACF) which has played a key role in developing legislation for witness protection programmes. Mr. Kinnes has contributed enormously to building relationships between the community and the police to tackle organized crime and drug trafficking despite threats to his life.

The judges for this year’s award include Queen Silvia of Sweden and the retired soprano singer, Grace Bumbry, who is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. The presentation ceremony will take place at 5.30pm today (Tuesday 17 December) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Executive Director of the Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and the Mayor of Vienna, Michael Häupl will be attending it.

Since 1999 the award has recognized twelve individuals and organizations from Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, Uganda and the UK.

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For further information about the awards contact Ms. Cherine Rahmy,
ODC External Relations Unit, tel: + 43 1 260 60 5575 or email:

For information about attending the event contact the Austrian Foreign Ministry tel: 53115 4422 or 53115 3338 or Anne Thomas, United Nations Information Service, Vienna,
tel: + 43 1 260 60 4448 or email: