19 August 2011, New York, USA — The New York Office of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the United Nations Democracy Fund are pleased to announce the launch of a panel on “Democracy and Development”, on Thursday, 1 September, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

This panel, intended for members of Permanent Missions to the United Nations in New York, will explore the links between democracy and development and ask whether democracy is a necessary element for economic development.  This is a vast and complex issue where political rhetoric often supplants rational analysis.  The objective of the panel is to eschew the rhetoric and concentrate on the analysis.  In his guidance note on democracy, the Secretary-General makes the point that “development is more likely to take hold if people are given a genuine say in their own governance and a chance to share in the fruits of progress”.

The issue will be investigated from both theoretical and case study approaches.  There are in fact two massive ongoing case studies, which are the differing paths to development adopted by China and India.  Both have enjoyed success, and it will be important to draw the lessons from these cases.

The panel has distinguished commentators who will no doubt spark a lively debate.  The panellists are Zhang Dan, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission China to the United Nations; Morton H. Halperin, a former United States diplomat and senior adviser to the Open Society Foundations, who co-wrote a book entitled The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace; and Roland Rich, a former Australian diplomat and current Executive Head of the United Nations Democracy Fund, whose most recent publication is Pacific Asia in Quest of Democracy.  Yvonne Lodico, Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and former Special Adviser in Timor-Leste for democratic governance, will co-chair the panel discussion.

The event should lead to understanding among the participants of the linkages between democracy and development and enable them to analyse the possible effects of different governance systems on economic development.

For more information, please contact Helene Gandois, UNITAR Training Associate, tel.: +1 212-963-9684, e-mail: helene.gandois< at >unitar.org (please replace < at > with @ when you type the address); or the United Nations Democracy Fund, One United Nations Plaza, Room DC1-1300, New York, New York 10017, tel.: +1 212 963 3399, fax: +1 212 963 1486 or visit the website:  http://www.un.org/democracyfund.