The large majority of UNDEF funds go to local civil society organizations for projects that strengthen the voice of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the participation of all groups in democratic processes.
The UN supports women's political participation, including efforts to increase the share of women elected into office and to build women's capacity as effective legislators once elected.
In 2007, the Secretary-General’s Policy Committee, the highest decision-making body within the UN Secretariat, requested the development of an Organization-wide strategy that further defines the UN’s approach to supporting democracy, anchored in the three pillars of the UN’s work, namely, peace and security, development, and human rights.
The Secretary-General tasked the Democracy Working Group of the Executive Committee on Peace and Security — established in May 2007 — to ensure regular follow-up on the issue of democracy and, more specifically, on strategy development.
In July 2010, as part of a resolution on system-wide reform, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, mandated to coordinate the gender mainstreaming work of the UN System.
In doing so, UN Member States took an historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women.Democracy, and democratic governance in particular, means that people’s human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected, promoted and fulfilled, allowing them to live with dignity.People have a say in decisions that affect their lives and can hold decision-makers to account, based on inclusive and fair rules, institutions and practices that govern social interactions.Since 1988, the General Assembly has adopted at least one resolution annually dealing with some aspect of democracy.Member States at the World Summit in September 2005 reaffirmed that “democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives.” The Summit Outcome Document also stressed that “democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing,” and pointed out that “while democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy.” Member States resolved to promote increased representation of women in Government decision-making bodies, including to ensure their equal opportunity to participate fully in the political process.This brings home the fact that democracy is one of the universal and indivisible core values and principles of the United Nations.It is based on the freely expressed will of people and closely linked to the rule of law and exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms.In essence, therefore, democratic governance is the process of creating and sustaining an environment for inclusive and responsive political processes and settlements.It is also important to note that the United Nations does not advocate for a specific model of government, but promotes democratic governance as a set of values and principles that should be followed for greater participation, equality, security and human development.Women are equal partners with men in private and public spheres of life and decision-making, and all people are free from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, class, gender or any other attribute.Democratic governance feeds into economic and social policies that are responsive to people’s needs and aspirations, that aim at eradicating poverty and expanding the choices that people have in their lives, and that respect the needs of future generations.