Yury Fedotov

Director-General/Executive Director

Vienna : A Mainstay of the United Nations

Development and Security Agenda

Address to the Plenary Meeting of Member States

Vienna, 29 September 2010




Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.


It is a pleasure to welcome you today to the United Nations Office in Vienna. I look forward to getting better acquainted with you in the coming weeks, and to working closely with you towards our shared goal of making life safer, healthier and more just for people around the globe.


I would also like to thank you, the Member States, for your continuing support for UNODC and UNOV. It is no exaggeration to say that the offices could not have achieved all that they have without your support.


Today, UNOV, UNODC and our field network are recognized as a mainstay of the development and security agenda of the United Nations. Vienna is a major hub for advancing the Secretary General's reforms to adapt the United Nations to the global challenges that face us today, such as:


  • achieving security and justice for all;
  • helping countries prevent terrorism;
  • achieving universal access to health and protecting young people from drug addiction and HIV;
  • increasing international and regional cooperation and the coordination of space-related activities for development;
  • defending countries against the threat of transnational organized crime;
  • protecting women, men and children from being trafficked, abused and enslaved;
  • safeguarding individuals from unfair criminal justice systems; and
  • protecting communities from corruption by the public or the private sector.


Vienna has also built up an impressive reputation as a venue for major conferences and events, for its technological advances and its efforts to "green" the Vienna International Centre. The Government of Austria and the City of Vienna have long been champions of the United Nations in Vienna, and I thank them for their staunch support.


I would like to acknowledge the role of my predecessor, Mr. Costa, in these many achievements, and also the crucial contributions of our highly talented staff, both here in Vienna and in field offices around the world. I am very proud of all of these accomplishments, and I intend to consolidate and build on these successes to further enhance the impact of our work.



In my first weeks in office, I have been engaging in extensive consultations, including participation in the Alpbach retreat with the Secretary-General, as well as the MDG Summit in New York last week, where I met with some 40 heads of state, foreign ministers and other senior officials including from UN management. I was pleased to see that UNODC enjoys a very high reputation among Member States and international organizations. I was also pleased that the MDG Outcome Document specifically refers to issues UNODC addresses that support the development agenda, such as:


  • improving health through comprehensive public health strategies for drug use prevention, drug dependence treatment and responding to the spread of the HIV epidemic;
  • halting illicit activities that harm the environment;
  • combating trafficking in children to help eliminate extreme poverty; and
  • tackling corruption, illicit financial flows and stolen asset transfer.


This underscores how relevant our work is, and how closely it is tied to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.


I intend to work closely with our two governing bodies (the CND and the CCPCJ), the treaty-based organizations and the Regional Groups. I have also been holding extensive briefings with both Vienna and field office staff. While there is much more for me to learn, today I would like to share with you my initial thoughts on the key priorities for UNOV and UNODC as we move forward. These include:


  • maintaining an ongoing dialogue with the Member States, partner international organizations, civil society and the private sector;
  • further enhancing end results, and thus the impact of our work, through the integrated programmatic approach along thematic and geographical priorities;
  • further enhancing the Office's political profile in line with our mandates;
  • increasing the visibility of UNOV and UNODC in capitals, the General Assembly, the Security Council, ECOSOC, the governing and treaty-based bodies;
  • strengthening coordination with other United Nations organizations and Vienna-based organizations;
  • improving staff-management relations in a one-team spirit; and
  • improving the cost-effectiveness of our work, and the governance and financial base of the offices.


We have to build on our comparative advantages. This means that we must confront the global challenges posed by illicit drugs, organized crime, corruption and terrorism in a comprehensive way.


Three indivisible pillars of our work-research; implementation of  the conventions; and operations in the field-are critical to our role assisting Member States in formulating and implementing policies. It is also worth emphasizing that at the core of our mandates is a commitment to human rights, to the construction of effective, transparent and accountable systems of criminal justice, and to a preventive approach to protecting individuals, families and communities from terrorism, from drug dealers and narcotics addiction and HIV, from being trafficked or smuggled, and from being abused by corrupt practices.


The best reward for our efforts would be when ordinary people see in their own neighbourhoods practical and meaningful results from our work.


Next month the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime convenes here in Vienna. I am confident that the Convention will emerge stronger and vested with a renewed commitment from all its Parties. It is time to achieve concrete results to ensure the effective implementation of the Convention.


In June, UNODC released the first comprehensive global transnational organized crime threat assessment report, which shows that billions are being diverted into criminal markets. Organized crime has gone global and is now one of the world's foremost economic and armed powers.


I intend to continue this line of research so that we can provide reliable and objective information on how the transnational dimensions of crime are evolving. This analytical work will help Member States formulate effective anti-crime policies.


Organized crime can be challenged only if countries display a collective will to confront it, if they are able to cooperate with each other, and if they redouble their collective efforts to ensure the efficient implementation of the powerful instrument that is UNTOC and its protocols.


We can see this happening with human trafficking. Last week in New York I was privileged to attend the First Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking, which was hosted by the Foreign Minister of Belarus.

The Group of Friends played an important role in supporting the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and in its adoption by the General Assembly on 30 July 2010.


The Global Plan of Action is an impressive achievement. It demonstrates the political commitment of all Member States to end human trafficking in all its forms through the adoption of a coordinated, comprehensive and consistent call for action across the globe. The plan also recognizes the human rights-based approach in its implementation, which UNODC welcomes.


One of the plan's most important elements is the establishment of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking. The Trust Fund will provide humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of human trafficking through established channels of assistance, such as governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.


The Trust Fund will be launched in New York in November, and UNODC is actively seeking nominations from Member States for the Fund's Board of Trustees. We need individuals with relevant experience in the field of trafficking in persons who have an understanding of the forms of humanitarian, legal and financial aid that might best support victims, and who are familiar with established channels of assistance, whether through governmental, intergovernmental or non-governmental organizations. The five-member Board, which will serve in an advisory capacity, will be appointed by the Secretary-General in consultation with Member States and myself, with due regard to equitable geographic representation.  I encourage you to submit nominations.


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I also intend to build on the policy advances that have been achieved, especially in relation to the centrality of public health and human rights to our work. The preventive, proactive approach that this implies is being integrated into all aspects of our work. I will be relying heavily on the expertise of the International Narcotics Control Board to ensure that its work and that of UNODC are complementary.


Over the last three years, Governments, with our assistance and expertise, have launched a number of Regional Programmes to promote security and the rule of law in various parts of the world.  These Regional Programmes are aligned with regional and national policies and priorities, and they promote ownership by partner countries. They are coordinated with other multilateral development agencies, and support mutual accountability for results.


UNODC will continue to promote security and development by focusing on five thematic areas:


1.putting a stop to organized crime and trafficking in illicit drugs, weapons and human beings;

2.building up criminal justice systems and preventing crime;

3.tackling corruption;

4.preventing drug use and the spread of HIV among drug users, prisoners and other vulnerable groups; and

5.preventing terrorism.



All of these issues are interrelated, so we cannot address them in isolation. They are also transnational. And they are too big for countries to confront on their own.


Look at Afghanistan. This country needs international support and assistance. Transnational criminal groups smuggle drugs derived from Afghan poppies through neighbouring countries and on to Russia, Europe and other regions. As underscored by the 2010 Afghanistan Opium Survey-which UNODC will release tomorrow-the link between opium poppy cultivation and insecurity in Afghanistan remains strong. And as we all know, insecurity in Afghanistan impacts the wider region and beyond.


The Paris Pact unites more than 50 States and international organizations to counter traffic in and consumption of Afghan opiates and related problems in the countries along the main trafficking routes.


The Paris Pact will be holding an important policy meeting of all partners in Vienna in November.  On the agenda for discussion will be the Pact's support for the proposal to hold a 3 rd Ministerial Conference early next year. While political commitments to assisting Afghanistan and the region have been reiterated several times and at the highest levels, a Paris Pact Ministerial Conference should help us all to identify clear benchmarks and practical measures to reduce the vulnerability of that region and beyond to drugs and crime.


Within this international framework, UNODC developed the Triangular Initiative to foster intelligence sharing and enhance border management cooperation among Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. Joint border patrolling has increased, resulting in drug seizures and the arrest of traffickers. We will be building on these accomplishments at a Ministerial Meeting of the Triangular Initiative in Islamabad in November, which I plan to attend.


UNODC also launched the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC) to promote cooperation among law enforcement agencies in the region and enhance counter-narcotic activities.


Both the Triangular Initiative and CARICC are part of the UNODC-coordinated Rainbow Strategy to identify and disrupt transnational trafficking networks, strengthen regional criminal justice capacity, and build security and confidence in this region.


Another good example of regional cooperation that calls for strong political and financial commitments is the Santo Domingo Pact and the Mechanism of Managua to undertake effective measures to confront drugs, crime and terrorism in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.  Drawing on lessons learned from the Paris Pact, the Santo Domingo Pact and Mechanism of Managua commit States throughout the region to taking steps that range from improving drug prevention and treatment to strengthening the enforcement of legislation and international judicial cooperation against drug trafficking, organized crime and terrorism.


We need to work towards similar regional pacts to encourage cooperation in other vulnerable regions where drugs, organized crime and corruption converge, for instance in Africa and East and South Asia.


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Now I would like to turn to the issue that is critical to the continued success of UNODC and UNOV: governance and financing.


I intend to work closely with Member States to further improve the governance and financial base of the Offices. Last week in New York I discussed these issues extensively with my colleagues in UN management, ACABQ and the Fifth Committee, as well as with some heads of delegation. I also welcome last year's decision by our two governing Commissions to establish an open-ended Working Group on governance and finance. In the coming months, I will consult with the Commissions and the Working Group to ensure that progress is being made in both of these areas.


I fully realize that framing our priorities for the future and attracting more resources will require continued excellence and high impact from our work, and more concrete and sustainable results. In this respect, I will build on the reforms that have been implemented in recent years, notably the integrated programmatic approach to delivering capacity-developing assistance in alignment with thematic and geographical priorities. I also intend to ensure that our work provides good value for money, including through a robust independent evaluation mechanism.


A number of positive steps have already been taken-including attracting more resources from the UN regular budget, and a major cost-cutting effort in 2009-and that there has been some progress in broadening the donor base. But we must keep looking for new opportunities for cost-efficiency and new sources of funding-including from public-private partnerships and revitalized financial models.  Internally, I will consult with UNOV and UNODC managers on efficient, transparent and accountable measures to manage our limited resources while maintaining high-quality programme and service delivery.  Our motto should be: "spend less, achieve more."


But at the same time, after careful analysis, I would like to reiterate my predecessor's message to the Secretary-General.  The issues UNODC addresses-crime, drugs, corruption and terrorism-are all global challenges and high priorities for the United Nations. Yet the General Assembly allocates less than 1 percent of the UN regular budget to UNODC. We will not be able to continue to meet growing demand for our services with such inadequate support for the core functions that keep UNODC running.


With the decline over the past two years of one of our two core sources of funding-general purpose contributions-our financial services are projecting a deficit in 2011. Unless we can avert this, we will be forced to cut a number of vital support and operational services to the bone.


This is a matter that cannot be postponed. The more demand for our services grows, the more precarious our core operations become.


If UNODC is to remain viable in the long run, we need a more efficient governance system and a funding model that is sustainable, predictable and stable, combining additional regular budget resources with voluntary contributions that will strengthen our institutional capacity to deliver, manage and monitor UNODC's technical assistance programmes.


Because of the urgency of our situation, I intend to spend most of my time and energy here in Vienna. Of course my duties will require me to undertake some travels, but I will limit my trips to high-priority purposes. I need to be here to steer our ship and keep it on course.


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Ladies and Gentlemen, in closing I would like to thank you, our Member States, for your support for our work here in Vienna and in the field.  I am proud of the many accomplishments that UNOV and UNODC have already achieved, and I look forward to working with you to build on this success. I also ask for your support and your trust.


Thank you.