UNDEF opens its annual window for project proposals for its Seventh Round of Funding on 15 November 2012, following the green light given by UNDEF Advisory Board. Project proposals may be submitted on-line between 15 November and 31 December. Only on-line proposals in either English or French will be accepted.
Applicants can find guidelines, lessons learned, and examples of previous application forms here. Those who plan to submit a proposal are strongly encouraged to visit this page as soon as possible to familiarize themselves with what is required.
UNDEF supports projects that strengthen the voice of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the participation of all groups in democratic processes. It is the only UN entity that has the word “democracy” in its name; the only UN body with the primary purpose of supporting democracy through empowering civil society; and one of the youngest entities in the UN system. UNDEF projects exist in developing countries, in societies in transition and in challenging environments, and are in six main areas: Community development; rule of law and human rights; tools for democratization; youth; empowering women; and media.
UNDEF grants range from US$50,000 to US$400,000. So far, UNDEF has funded more than 400 projects in over 100 countries, bringing total disbursement to almost 140 million dollars. The large majority of funds go to local civil society groups. In this way, UNDEF plays a new and unique role, complementing the UN’s traditional work with Governments to strengthen democratic governance around the world. It targets the demand side of democracy, rather than the supply side.
In 2011, UNDEF received a record high almost 3000 project proposals. Only some 70 were selected for funding. Project proposals are subject to a highly rigorous and competitive selection process, quality vetting, due diligence and lessons learned from previous Rounds. A team of international assessors score each proposal against 10 set criteria and produce a long list. To narrow down the list further, UN Resident Coordinators and Experts of the UNDEF Advisory Board are invited to provide comments, quality vetting, and views on how proposed activities would fit in the overall context of existing UN work in the countries and fields proposed. The same comments are sought from the UNDEF Programme Consultative Group, making use of the specific expertise of each of its entities: the Department of Political Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Peacebuilding Support Office, the UN Development Programme, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and UN Women.
Based on this collective input, the UNDEF Secretariat produces a first short list, expected tol be completed only in mid-2013, after which the process moves into the next stage. Each short-listed applicant will be contacted with a request for a draft project document, which is in effect the contract between UNDEF and the grantee. The project document negotiation requires the applicant to provide a more elaborated project design, and involves detailed input from both UNDEF and the applicant, as well as scrutiny and due diligence enquiries by UNDEF. Only upon successful conclusion of the project document, and its approval by the United Nations Controller, will the project proposal formally be approved for funds disbursement. This is expected to happen after September 2013.