MALAYA: Rights groups expected to protest RP inclusion in UNDEF advisory board

By ANTHONY IAN CRUZ
Malaya
February 9, 2008

HUMAN rights groups and families of victims of extrajudicial victims are expected to protest the decision of United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon naming of the Philippines to the Advisory Board of the UN Democracy Fund.

Charge d’Affaires Leslie Gatan of the Permanent Philippine Mission to the UN said the country has accepted the appointment which was formally relayed by UN deputy secretary-general Asha-Rose Migiro to Ambassador Hilario Davide Jr.

International organizations and Prof. Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, had earlier assailed the Philippine government and military over the unresolved slays of more than 800 activists.

Gatan said that as UNDEF member, the Philippines can be expected to provide policy guidance for the development of program and funding guidelines, and to recommend funding proposals for approval by the UN chief.

Gatan said the Philippines now joins Mali, Mozambique, Peru, Romania, and Vanuatu – all selected by the UN chief on the basis of geographic representation – in the 19-member Advisory Board to the UNDEF. The board also includes seven representatives from the largest contributors to the UNDEF, namely, Australia, Germany, India, Japan, Qatar, and the United States, two representatives from international NGOs, and four personal representatives of the UN chief.

Established in 2005, the UNDEF is a general trust fund intended to support global democratization efforts by financing projects that build and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and ensure the participation of all groups in democratic processes.

UNDEF’s previously approved projects include the “Media, Democracy and Development in the Philippines” of the Philippine-based Center for Community Journalism and Development which seeks to strengthen Philippine media amid recent challenges coming from the Arroyo government.

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