Press Releases

    24 November 2004

    United Nations, City of Vienna, Austrian Foreign Ministry Present 2004 Civil Society Awards to Groups Fighting Drugs, Crime, and Social Apathy

    VIENNA, 24 November (UN Information Service) -- Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will today join Ursula Plassnik, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria and Michael Häupl, the Mayor and Governor of Vienna, in Vienna’s historic City Hall to present the 2004 United Nations Vienna Civil Society Awards to three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and one business.

    According to Mr. Costa, “The UNODC can be a ‘conscience’ for a world that sometimes prefers to look the other way when it comes to drugs and crime. But NGOs and companies like the one we honour today are our ‘eyes and ears,’ organizations that look into problems, take action, and then engage the larger support of governments and society.”

    “I salute these groups who work on the frontlines: they are catalysts for change,” added Mr. Costa. “Any campaign to make the world a better place must begin on our streets and in our communities. This year’s winners of the UN Civil Society Awards have engaged the energy and commitment of  their communities, most of these affected by drugs, crime, violence, and apathy,” he concluded.

    The United Nations Vienna Civil Society Awards are presented each year to NGOs who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to civil society by combating drug abuse, crime and other socially debilitating behaviour.  

    Ursula Plassnik, Austria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, described the relationship between civil society and freedom, adding "Civil society with its enthusiasm and personal engagement contributes decisively to democracy and human rights."

    The Mayor of Vienna, Michael Häupl, also commented on the importance of the ceremony to the City of Vienna: "The Civil Society Award constitutes a special sign of recognition for the Austrian federal capital and its attachment to the United Nations, especially since we are celebrating, this year, 25 years of the United Nations in Vienna. The award also underlines Vienna's international reputation as a capital open to the world."

    This year’s ceremony will also be attended by Markus A. Rogan, the Austrian swimming champion and winner of two silver medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, who will participate as a guest of honour. He will be awarded a special Certificate of Merit, as well as a medallion in recognition of his "outstanding achievements in sports and for displaying the true spirit of sportsmanship."

    The 2004 United Nations Vienna Civil Society Award winners include:

    CEDRO (Centro de información y education para la prevencion del Abuso de Drogas) Peru: the principal and longest-serving NGO aimed at curbing illegal drug use in Peru. CEDRO has provided assistance and training to 5,000 street children and adolescents, 145 businesses and 215 rural cultural centres. It works closely with government entities in developing strategies and school curricula in the field of drug prevention.

    Drug Abuse Prevention Centre, Russia: a pioneer NGO offering drug prevention programmes and  support to drug users outside traditional medical settings. Established in 1997 in St.  Petersburg, the Centre now serves more than 1,000 people, and has expanded its projects to five regions of the Russian Federation (north-western and central Regions, Caucasus, Ural and Siberia).

    Mjaft!, Albania: “Mjaft!” -- an Albanian colloquialism for Enough! -- began in 2003 as a four-month public awareness campaign designed to strengthen a sense of community, promote good  governance, and improve the image of Albania worldwide. The campaign, targeting approximately three million Albanians,  proved the largest and the most successful public awareness and advocacy campaign ever mounted in Albania. Mjaft! continues to support a host of activities designed to strengthen civil society, including voter education campaigns, public debate, peaceful protests, and student workshops.

    Carrefour, Colombia: a well-known  supermarket chain that has purchased products from farmers and agricultural organizations participating in UNODC alternative development projects since 2001. Carrefour also  publishes a monthly catalogue of UNODC products delivered free-of-charge to two million Colombian homes. 

    CEDRO, Drug Abuse Prevention Centre and Mjaft! will each receive a medal, a Certificate of Merit, and an award of €20,000. Carrefour will receive a medal and a Certificate of  Merit.

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