The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), established in July 2005 to promote and consolidate new and restored democracies with financial and technical help, began its first day of practical work today when Secretary-General Kofi Annan chaired a meeting of the Fund’s Advisory Board.
The meeting is set to approve the governing arrangements as well as the programme framework for the Fund, a body which was welcomed by Member States during last September’s 2005 World Summit and which has already received pledges for more than $41 million from 17 countries from various regions of the world.
“The Secretary-General sees UNDEF as an innovative and flexible mechanism for advancing the UN democracy agenda. UNDEF will support projects aimed at consolidating and strengthening democratic institutions and processes such as the drafting of constitutions and the development of pluralistic media,” Mr. Annan’s spokesman said today.
“It will also fund projects designed to empower civil society, strengthen the rule of law, increase popular participation and ensure that people are able to exercise their democratic rights. Its comparative advantage is expected to be its capacity to help build the enabling environment necessary for democratic institutions to function more effectively.”
At today’s first meeting of the Advisory Board, General Assembly President Jan Eliasson expressed appreciation for the Secretary-General’s initiative in setting up the Fund and wished the Board success in its work.
“He remarked that democracy has an important place in the UN reform process, and that one clear example of the use of the Fund will be in the work of the Peacebuilding Commission,” Mr. Eliasson’s spokesperson said today.
The Fund’s Advisory Board is made up of 17 members, including representatives from the largest Member State contributors to the Fund, those from Member States selected by Mr. Annan to reflect diverse geographical representation, and also representatives from civil society and personal representatives of the Secretary-General.