The United Nations Democracy Fund, which awards grants to projects that try to help promote and consolidate new and restored democracies, met today to discuss ways to improve the monitoring, evaluation and accountability of its grants.
The Fund’s advisory board, meeting in New York, also reviewed progress on the first batch of 125 projects that were approved by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in August.
In a press statement following the meeting, the board’s members said they reviewed procedures for evaluation and accountability and discussed guidelines for monitoring and evaluation, including the possibility of detailed financial reporting requirements for project recipients.
The board also looked at procedures for checks and balances and the due diligence process to ensure the quality of the projects chosen and their consistency with the proposal submitted.
Set up by Mr. Annan in July last year as a voluntary trust fund, the Fund is designed to promote and consolidate new and restored democracies in the areas of elections, human rights, civil society, the media and rule of law.
The Fund defined six areas as funding priorities for the initial group of projects: strengthening democratic dialogue and support for constitutional processes; civil society empowerment; civic education, voter registration and strengthening of political parties; citizens' access to information; human rights and fundamental freedoms; and accountability, transparency and integrity.
Its first batch of projects, which will receive $36 million between them, cover 110 countries, with the largest share going to the sub-Saharan region. Disbursement of funds has started and will continue over the coming weeks.
In his statement to the board today Amir Dossal, Executive Director of the UN Office for Partnerships, said “we are extremely pleased with the quality of the projects and the foreseen impact that they will have in sensitive areas such as strengthening democracy-building capacity of civil society, encouraging greater transparency for citizens and in promoting gender equality.”
The Fund's 17-member Advisory Board includes representatives from the largest Member State contributors, other countries chosen to ensure geographical diversity, as well as representatives from civil society and on behalf of the UN.
Meanwhile, the UN Peacebuilding Commission – set up to help countries emerging from conflict avoid a relapse into bloodshed – began its second round of country-specific meetings today with a discussion on Burundi. Tomorrow the Commission will discuss Sierra Leone.