On 4 July 2005, then UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, announced the creation of the UN Democracy Fund at the African Union summit. The 2005 World Summit reaffirmed democracy as “a universal value”, indicating that “there is no single model of democracy, that it does not belong to any country or region”, and welcomed “the establishment of a Democracy Fund at the United Nations”. In his statement to the press on 31 August 2006, Mr. Annan called on all Members States to support the UN Democracy Fund and use it as an innovative and flexible mechanism for advancing the UN democracy agenda. In April 2007, at the UN Democracy Fund’s fourth Advisory Board meeting, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that promotion of democracy is inseparable for UN’s broader work for security, development and human rights. In the Secretary-General’s message at the meeting of the International Conference of New or Restored Democracies of December 2007, it was noted that a democratic system also contributes to the promotion of equitable social and economic development.
The Secretary-General’s Advisory Board, UNDEF’s main governing mechanism, is composed of 19 members. They include: 13 Member States (seven largest contributors to UNDEF, Australia, France, Germany, India, Japan, Qatar and USA; and six countries that represent the balance of UN Members, Mali, Mozambique, Peru, Philippines, Romania and Vanuatu); four personal representatives of the Secretary-General (Ms. Aye Aye Thant, President of U Thant Institute; Professor Adebayo Olukoshi, Executive Secretary of Council for the Development of Social Science in Africa; and Professor Michael Doyle of Columbia University; and Mr. Amir A. Dossal, Executive Director of Untied Nations Office of Partnerships); and two representatives of non-governmental organizations (Mr. Ziad Abdel Samad, Executive Director of Arab NGO Network for Development; and Mr. Nicholas Howen, Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists). The 2008 Advisory Board was appointed by the Secretary-General in January 2008. The next Advisory Board meeting is scheduled to take place on 15 July 2008.
The Programme Consultative Group (PCG) serves as UN inter-agency mechanism that provides expert advice and is comprised of DPA, DPKO, OHCHR, UNDGO, UNDP, UNIFEM, and UNODC. The Peacebuilding Support Office also participates in its meetings. The Fund’s office is staffed by an Executive Head, two professional staff, one Junior Professional Officer, interns and support personnel. The Fund launched its first call for proposals on 15 April 2006 and its second call on 15 November 2007.
UNDEF launched its second round of projects in November 2007 and received 1,873 applications. After having consultations with PCG, UN Resident Coordinators and the Expert Groups, UNDEF produced a list that contains 86 select projects. In mid-May 2008, the total of 86 projects was approved by the Secretary-General. Currently, UNDEF is in the process of negotiating project documents with project implementing agencies. Grants are expected to be released this summer.
UNDEF participated in meetings organised by numerous partners on democracy promotion. Most recently, UNDEF participated in a meeting on world movement for democracy in Kiev (April 2008); a round table on the role of multilateral organizations in supporting democracy in Stockholm (April 2008) and a NGO meeting organized by the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights” in Geneva (April 2008).
On 15 September 2008, the first International Day of Democracy will be held following the proclamation of this date in the General Assembly Resolution 62/7. UNDEF is preparing to host an “Information Event” at Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium on 15 September 2008 at 3pm. The event will include opening statements by the Secretary-General (TBC) and UNDEF Board members, video and slideshows of UNDEF’s activities and presentations by UNDEF’s grantees.