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Cristina Albertin:Representative for the Regional UNODC Office for South Asia
Ms. Cristina Albertin joined as Representative for the Regional UNODC Office for South Asia based in New Delhi, India on April 24 2009. Her career spans 18 years with the United Nations where she served in different capacities.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she is a citizen of Germany where she grew up. She completed her studies in Agricultural Sciences at the Technical University Munich, Germany. She went on to acquire a Master in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the Justus-Liebig-University in Germany. Through a prestigious scholarship, in 1987/8, she participated in team research study on the "Impact of Tourism" in Chang Mai, Thailand. She chose to focus her study on the impact of women, a topic that brought her first in touch with rural migration of women, who often ended up in conditions of exploitation in their destination. Her next brush with the development field was when her uncle, then posted in Pakistan with USAID, encouraged her to work as a volunteer for some months with USAID. During that time, she accompanied him on frequent field visits to remote corners of that country zones like Baluchistan, where she learnt about the environmental effects of the green revolution and how to deal with their residual effects.
In 1990, she was selected for the Junior Professional Officer Programme (JPO) funded by the German Government at a time when she was pursuing a post-graduation at the German Development Institute in Berlin, Germany. Since she had a passion to work with the UN and was intrigued to go back to the continent she was born, she decided to take a post offered at the World Food Programme, (WFP) in La Paz, Bolivia. As an Assistant Project Officer, she worked on dairy production projects in five departments of Bolivia from 1991-1994. Interested in understanding development challenges and the view points of the target groups of technical cooperation, she travelled extensively to the rural areas interacting with the local peasant families and the Government institutions on the issues on the improvement of dairy production, additional income-generating possibilities and other development-related issues such as health, education, children and women. In her daily work within the UN and the project, she emphasized the need to reduce gender gaps, to value the economic role of women in agriculture, especially in her field of work, cattle-raising and dairy production and to outreach to women and integrate them in project and eventually development efforts.
When her three year assignment with WFP was about to come to an end, Ms. Cristina, enthusiastic and convinced that the UN was the right option for her, explored various possibilities applying to several organizations including UNODC. She was selected as Assistant Representative of the UNODC Office in Lima, Peru responsible for different technical assistance projects during 1994-1997. During that time, she spent extensive time in the main coca-growing areas in Peru, where UNODC together with the farmers sought to identify and promote income options for coca-growing farmers, such as coffee, cacao, palm-heart and palm oil. Again, the outreach to women as relevant development agents was on her agenda. Aware of the side-effects of drug production in the country, she also developed together with the Ministry of Education the ever-first UNODC-supported drug abuse prevention project in schools, aiming at training teachers on healthy lifestyles for kids.
After having served more than six years "on the ground" in the Andean region, in 1997, Ms. Cristina was transferred to the UNODC Headquarters in Vienna, Austria, where she served during nine years in different capacities. For several years she worked as Programme Manager for South America supporting UNODC's offices in the region in the development of and fund-raising for technical cooperation projects in drug control. From 2003 to 2006, she headed the Regional Section for Latin America and the Caribbean, a time during which UNODC's work in the region acquired increased importance in light of the United Nations Conventions on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) coming into force in 2003 and the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2005. Interested in staff, human resources management and internal justice issues, she assumed additional responsibilities as a member to the UNOV/UNODC staff council, as a staff representative on the UNODC/UNOV appointment and promotion panel and on the UNODC/UNOV Joint Appeals Board.
During her many years at HQ in Vienna, Ms. Cristina always had on her mind to return to the direct work on the ground. In early 2007, she left Vienna and took up the UNODC Representative post in La Paz, Bolivia, the country where she had started her UN career. Her assignment came at a time when a new Government called for profound changes and for an end of discrimination to the indigenous people in Bolivia. During her time in Bolivia, she devoted much time to inform about the risks and impact that drugs and crime have for the Bolivian society and how the respective international conventions can be used to effectively address the threats for human security. At the core of her heart was advocacy for more awareness and for proper measures to address trafficking of women and children in view of the high number of Bolivians migrating to neighboring countries in search of better incomes and the high number of missing children. She also attached much importance to promote comprehensive arms legislation and control in Bolivia.
In spite of her growing responsibilities and ranks in the UN, Ms. Cristina has always found time to communicate with the media on the importance of the UNODC work with regard to human security and justice. She has written numerous articles like 'Encountering human trafficking in Bolivia' and 'Traffickers target minors in Bolivia' that were published on the UNODC main website and at the UN radio. Her interview where she reflects upon the situation of farmers in Bolivia and the opportunities for development that are within their reach was also published on the UNODC main website. She has given several in-depths interviews to the media on the UNODC coca crop report, the coca economy in Bolivia and in the Andean region. During 2008, she was the main speaker at the "Film Festival on Human Trafficking " in La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz in 2008 in Bolivia and gave numerous interviews to audio and audiovisual media.