The United Nations and the Propagation of Democracy in the World

  • 8 March 2008


The drive towards democratization and reform has become the primary catchphrase in the present global political scene. Although an essentially internal political matter, the external dimensions of the subject has today become extremely obvious in the backdrop of globalization, the telecommunications revolution, the growing clash of interests and the weakening of the traditional concepts of 'sovereignty' and the associated ideals between countries and societies.

The external dimension of this issue gives rise not only to rivalries and arguments, but also to tensions due to its correlation with the ideals of national identity and particularity. It raises concerns about "unsought interference" in the internal affairs of other countries. Within this context, the $41 million raised by various countries for the UN Democracy Fund is a highly significant development due to several factors. The most important among these is that the fund is affiliated with the United Nations. Therefore, its role in supporting democracies, where such support is forthcoming will not lead to any problems or sensitivities. It will not arouse any suspicion of interference in internal affairs.

The other aspect relates to the suspicion arising from the possible exploitation of the ideals of democracy and human rights for ulterior ends. As the UN is undertaking this mission through the Democracy Fund it would allay this suspicion and encourage various countries to cooperate with the Fund without reservations. Moreover, it will allow non-government organizations to receive assistance without being accused of "seeking outside assistance" or being "agents" of external powers. As a result, they will gain in credibility and support for their role in bringing about a political transformation. Thirdly, the UN's involvement in supporting democracy, where such support is needed, will ensure smooth political transformation as it would ensure a systemic continuity and would take into account the particularities of various societies. Besides, it will encourage emerging democracies to move on the path of development and progress unhindered.