The United Nations Democracy Fund is being launched this month. The fund's purpose is to provide assistance for projects related to developing democratic institutions and processes, help promote civil society and will provide grants to government, non-government, national, regional and international entities.
President George W. Bush proposed the idea for the fund in 2004. In a speech delivered at the U-N General Assembly, Mr. Bush said that he believes "the advance of liberty is the path to both a safer and better world." Mr. Bush said that the fund could be used to support rule of law projects, the building of independent judicial systems, the encouragement of a free press, and the development of political parties and trade unions.
So far, the Democracy Fund has received forty-four-million dollars in contributions and pledges from nineteen countries, including ten-million dollar donations from the U.S. and India. Gunter Pleuger is Germany's U-N ambassador and a member of the Fund's advisory committee. He says, "We expect the fund to act quickly now and to come out with some concrete projects that make a difference on the ground."
Simon B. Idohou, Benin's ambassador to the U-N, is another member of the advisory committee. He says the Democracy Fund could help in efforts to decentralize power, which he calls "a great national project” in his country. John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the U-N, says the Fund "is something that we think could have an impact in the real world and it's a high priority for the United States to make this fund a success":
"We have a lot of meetings at the U-N. We write documents at the U-N. We do a lot of studies at the U-N. We'd like to see practical, tangible, concrete outcomes that go beyond meetings and papers and analyses. So that's what we're going to be suggesting as we continue our deliberations and look at the opening suggestions for projects."
Mr. Bolton says, "The real measure of success of the Democracy Fund will be the concrete, tangible advancement of democracy around the world."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.