Note No. 6021
17 July 2006

Note to Correspondents

Advisory Board of United Nations Democracy Fund to Review First Applications for Project Funds 18 July

NEW YORK, 14 July (UN Headquarters) -- The Advisory Board of the United Nations Democracy Fund will meet to review the first batch of applications for funding and make recommendations to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan for approval, at 3 p.m. on 18 July at the United Nations Headquarters.

Approved projects will be announced on the website of the Democracy Fund in early August, and disbursement of funds is expected to begin in September.

Preceding the Advisory Board meeting, the Democracy Fund Office will hold a panel discussion on Strategies to Promote Democracy, at 11 a.m. in Conference Room 1.  The event is open to media.  Speakers include Advisory Board members -- Rima Khalaf Hunaidi (Chair); Professor Azyumardi Azra, Rector of the State Islamic University-Jakarta; Professor Michael Doyle of Columbia University; and Professor Guillermo O'Donnell of the University of Notre Dame.

The United Nations Democracy Fund was established by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2005 and endorsed by Member States at their 2005 September Summit.  The first session of the Fund's Advisory Board, on 6 March 2006, approved the Fund's governance structure and programme guidelines.  An Advisory Board, a Programme Consultative Group and the Office of the United Nations Democracy Fund are the three main governing mechanisms of the Fund.

During the first project application phase, from mid-April to 15 May, more than 1,300 proposals were submitted, 650 of which met the Fund's guidelines.  These represented some $447 million in funding requests.  The Democracy Fund had received close to $50 million in contributions and pledges from Member States as of the end of June.

The Programme Consultative Group selected some 200 projects for consideration by the Advisory Board, according to their proximity to meeting Fund objectives.

The primary purpose of the Democracy Fund is to promote democracy by providing assistance for projects that consolidate and strengthen democratic institutions and facilitate democratic governance.  The Fund complements current United Nations efforts on elections, human rights, and support to civil society, pluralistic media and the rule of law.

Six areas were defined as funding priorities for the first wave of proposed 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.

Projects should also have a method of guaranteeing the participation of marginalized segments of society and vulnerable groups; they must ensure that gender issues are explicitly addressed and promote participation of women; and they should be based on partnerships between civil society groups and the United Nations.

The majority of the applications (77 per cent) were for country-level projects from over 130 United Nations Member States, developing and developed.  The rest were regional or global projects.  More than two thirds came from civil society organizations, mostly proposing civil society empowerment and strengthening of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In terms of the Democracy Fund structure, the 17-member Advisory Board provides policy guidance for the development of a programme framework and funding guidelines and recommends funding proposals for approval by the Secretary-General.

Its members include representatives from the largest Member State contributors to the Fund, as well as representatives from Member States selected by the Secretary-General to reflect diverse geographical representation.  It also includes representatives from civil society and personal representatives of the Secretary-General.

The Advisory Board members are: Australia, France, Germany, India, Qatar and the United States (as main contributors); Benin, Chile, Hungary, Indonesia and South Africa (to ensure geographical diversity); representatives of the World Alliance for Citizens Participation (CIVICUS) and the International Commission of Jurists; Professor Michael Doyle of Columbia University, Professor Guillermo O'Donnell of the University of Notre Dame, Rima Khalaf Hunaidi, former Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Amir A. Dossal, the Executive Director of the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships, in an ex officio capacity.

The Programme Consultative Group consists of seven representatives from different United Nations departments, agencies and programmes.  It provides advice to the Advisory Board on programme funding criteria and project proposals.  Members are the United Nations Department of Political Affairs; United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations; UNDP; United Nations Development Group Office; United Nations Development Fund for Women; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; and the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The Office of the United Nations Democracy Fund helps develop policy framework and programme funding criteria and solicits and receives proposals.

Contacts:  Valerie de Campos Mello, tel.:  212 963 3437, e-mail:  of the Office of the United Nations Democracy Fund, or Janos Tisovszky, tel.:  917 367 2068, e-mail:  of the United Nations Department of Public Information.

For further information on the work of the United Nations Democracy Fund, please visit the Fund's website at .

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