[Dateline: New York | Author: United Nations Democracy Fund]
The Advisory Board of the United Nations Democracy Fund met on 21 April and approved recommendations for projects in the Third Round of Funding.
The Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Asha-Rose Migiro, joined the meeting, which brought together the seven biggest donors -- the United States, India, Japan, Qatar, Australia, Germany and France -- and six countries reflecting geographical balance -- Botswana, Lebanon, Mongolia, Panama, Slovenia and Trinidad and Tobago.
The meeting was chaired by Professor Michael Doyle, and attended by individual members Ms. Sanam Anderlini and Dr. Ashraf Ghani, as well as civil society representatives the Asia Society and Femmes Africa Solidarité.
India, the U.S. and Germany all announced new contributions to UNDEF, in the case of the U.S. pending Congressional approval. “The United States is proud to be a founding member of UNDEF,” said Ambassador Alejandro Wolff. “The fact that there were a record number of applications in the Third Round is a testament to the impact UNDEF projects are having.”
India’s Acting Permanent Representative, Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri, noted that whereas the word “democracy” did not appear in the UN Charter, “democratic” appeared in the very beginning of the Preamble to the Indian Constitution. With the ongoing parliamentary elections, spread over five rounds from 16 April to 13 May, India was in the midst of the “largest democratic exercise in the world”. He noted that the latest 5 million-dollar contribution from India -- also an UNDEF founding member and its second largest donor -- had already been disbursed.
For Germany, Ambassador Martin Ney said his country, also a founding member, was determined to continue its firm support for UNDEF. Announcing Germany's intention to contribute a further 1.5 million dollars for the upcoming Round, he hoped this may encourage other donors to contribute as well.
The Deputy Secretary-General, attending for the first time, said: “UNDEF is unique in many ways. You are the only United Nations entity whose name contains the word “democracy”. By working directly with civil society to seed democracy from within, you support the demand side of democracy, rather than the supply side. By lending the United Nations brand to a project, you bestow a convening power and multiplier effect that generates more democracy initiatives. And you operate independently of the Organization's relationship with individual Governments.
“I am proud of the leadership UNDEF is showing in forging stronger democratic participation and governance. The Secretary-General and I offer our profound support as you embark on this Third Round of Funding.”