UN deputy chief praises VN's efforts in combating drugs and crime

Antonio Maria Costa, Undersecretary General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has praised Viet Nam's commitments and achievements in the fight against drugs and crime.

Talking with a Viet Nam News Agency reporter in Ha Noi o­n Mar. 2, Costa, who is o­n a two-day visit to Viet Nam, said the country should recognise that there are two different aspects of its economic success story.  o­ne is that Viet Nam is opening up very rapidly to international trade, tourism, communication and new ideas, all of which are bringing in new wealth and economic improvement.  At the same time, international integration is bringing some bad elements from outside, such as an increased threat of crime and international trafficking of narcotics. 

"There is a saying, 'when you open the windows you get fresh air, but you also get flies and mosquitoes.'  So it is the role of the government, assisted by the UN, to put up the nets to prevent those undesirable elements of society from impacting the process of economic improvement in Viet Nam.  This is exactly what I believe we should be doing, and the government is committed," Costa said.

He also spoke highly of the cooperation between Viet Nam and UNODC in combating drugs and crime over the years. "The UN Office o­n Drugs and Crime and the government of Viet Nam have a long period of experience together. Therefore, the main purpose of my visit is to deepen and broaden the collaboration between the UNODC and Viet Nam.

"Currently, we are running projects in Viet Nam from drug treatment to drug abuse prevention to anti-money laundering to anti-crime programmes, strengthening border controls, strengthening the fight against trafficking of human beings," he said.

The UN deputy chief said that the role of the UNODC is further "to help the authorities to strengthen the legislative, administrative and judicial systems, to help the government resist the pressure from outside."

Costa also praised Viet Nam's achievements in implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He said "My discussion with Vietnamese leaders is also centered o­n the ability of Viet Nam to reach almost all of the MDGs.  I believe that the odds are very good that Viet Nam will.  Of course it is partly because of the emphasis put by all of the UN agencies o­n this and the government commitment to successful implementation strategies, but I would say that the bulk of the strength of the drive towards MDG implementation comes from the country at large, from society and business, from the tremendous commitment of people to improve their lot and to improve the economic condition of the country.  A general effort to improve the economic condition means better education, better gender balances, less poverty, a better environment, and a general commitment of society to reach the goals and other goals which are not a part of the MDGs, for example controlling drugs, corruption and money laundering, which are a prerequisite for the healthy, sustainable development which we have seen recently in Viet Nam".