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The Clinton Administration made democracy an integral part of American foreign policy and invited India to partner America. India declined. Discussions continued and in the course of the Bush Administration, India relented but on condition that the work be conducted through the United Nations. Thus was born the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and the USA and India have provided half of the USD150m it has raised since its establishment.
To be an effective democracy support facility within the rules and politics of the United Nations is a continuing challenge. While the word democracy has established itself within the UN’s rhetorical and normative pronouncements, it remains a contested concept.
Needless to say, the governments of many Member States of the UN see democracy as a threat. UNDEF has nevertheless been a success. This is due in no small measure to the support of a core group of Member States of which Australia was once a part. It is also due to UNDEF’s success in dealing with five UN pathologies each of which represented a serious threat to UNDEF’s effectiveness.
Dr Roland Rich served for twenty-three years in the Australian Foreign Service including posts as Legal Adviser, Assistant Secretary for International Organisations and Ambassador to Laos. Dr Rich joined the Australian National University in 1998 as Foundation Director of the Centre for Democratic Institutions, Australia’s government funded democracy promotion institute. In 1997 he was appointed Executive Head of the United Nations Democracy Fund and concurrently for the last four of those years Director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships until his retirement from the UN in 2014. He now teaches post-graduate courses at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He has written or edited five books and is working on his sixth.
This event is hosted by the Centre for International Governance & Justice, Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet).