Press Releases

Note to Correspondents

Note No 190
29 May 2002


Five Immediate Priorities

Addressing the staff of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention on his first day in office, 7 May 2002, the new Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, spoke about his priorities in running this agency:

"In my consultations with the ODCCP staff and the senior UN representatives in New York, I have developed a number of thoughts regarding our institutions’ immediate priorities. There are five points worth looking into.

  • Good Governance: I will stress this concept over and over again as a fundamental requirement to attain the level of credibility and accountability our Vienna Offices must have: credibility with ourselves, our colleagues elsewhere in the UN, but especially with our stakeholders.
  • Operational and institutional priorities: So much good work has been done over the years to launch a broad array of field programs and projects, most of them highly regarded. It would be good, however, to frame these activities in an overall operational context, establishing the top priorities in a concrete and clear manner.
  • The budget, namely the efforts needed to maintain -- perhaps increase -- the volume of operations, and therefore the necessary staff. This calls for a greater stability and predictability of funding, and diversification of its sources.
  • Staff-management relations are critical. We need human resources policies, which will develop increasing opportunities to take advantage of what the staff can, and want, to accomplish. Finally,
  • I want to improve the organization’s ability to communicate within itself and with the outside world. The potentials in this field are enormous, as we address some of the most deeply felt concerns in our societies, such as drugs and crime. Let people know what we accomplish and the good use we make of the resources entrusted to us.

These are, I believe, interlocking aspects of our work. There is an operational logic indeed which bonds them together: good governance and clarity of priorities are key to credibility and thus to ensuring adequate funding. In turn, greater resources are needed to provide stability in employment, which is the reward for the excellent work you are doing. Excellent work must be the institution's way to project its image to the outside world, and convince stakeholders that it makes eminent sense to invest in the UN Offices in Vienna, Mr. Costa said.

From an Address to Permanent Representatives to the UN in Vienna, 17 May 2002

A 'New Office'

"Welcome to this Office, your UN Office in Vienna. I welcome you all on behalf of the new management. I stress the word "new", as the Office is obviously new to me. Hopefully you will discover soon that the Office is, paradoxically perhaps, becoming again "new" to you. New in the sense that I expect it to evolve into a credible and efficient Institution that makes a difference to those affected by, and suffering from, the consequences of narcotic use, organized crime, corruption and terrorism.

Fast Forward Key

"I intended to "hit the ground running", as the jargon says. You will judge. On my part, having started the week with a 24-hour round trip to New York and having just returned from a 12-hour round trip to Geneva, I feel as if I hit the fast forward key accidentally.

Studying Afghan Dependency on Opium

"I am pleased to see that a consensus has emerged over the last months on what is needed and on the underlying strategic priorities (in Afghanistan). In sessions with staff, and during consultations with stakeholders in Geneva yesterday, we have made progress in understanding who is doing what for the rehabilitation of the country. We have launched a study, building on existing material, to understand the economics of dependency on opium, in Afghanistan and in surrounding countries. But we need to look beyond the short term: working closely with bilateral and multilateral aid partners, we need to consider the appropriate development alternatives for the country.

Commitment to Deliver

"We all know the difficult funding problems faced by ODCCP at present. Measures have already been taken in response to your concerns and those expressed by oversight entities, particularly OIOS and the External Auditors. I sincerely believe that once we have established the right instruments of governance; once we have reached clarity in our institutional priorities; once staff motivation has recovered, at that time the budget constraint will not be hurting ODCCP as it is today. For my part, working closely with staff, I will regard resources at our disposal as a "commitment to deliver", not as "an entitlement to spend". These words are not rhetorical sound bites, or empty public relation jargon. I stand by the substantive meaning they represent."

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