7 MARCH 2006

Secretary-General Pleased at Meeting of Advisory Board of UN Democracy Fund

NEW YORK, 6 February (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General is pleased that the Advisory Board of the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) is meeting today to review its governance and programme arrangements. The Board's decisions today will set the basis for the Fund to become operational.

The Secretary-General established UNDEF in July 2005.  It was welcomed by Heads of State and Government at the September 2005 World Summit, at which they reaffirmed that democracy is a universal value and that there is no single model of democracy.  And it has now 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 United Nations democracy agenda.  The 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.  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.

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