October 25, 2012
On Thursday, October 25, Muhlenberg College in conjunction with The Humpty Dumpty Institute’s Higher Education Alliance for the United Nations (HEA), hosted Mr. Roland Rich, Executive Head of the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) for a lecture and discussion on Theories of Democratization. In his lecture, Mr. Rich discussed the competing theories of democratization, from modernization, human rights and civil society theories and the policy implications for each. He also discussed the work of UNDEF around the world in promoting democratization. After the lecture and Q&A session, Mr. Rich met with students and faculty for an informal gathering to discuss issues from the lecture and the United Nations in general.
Mr. Rich, an Australian national, assumed his position as Executive Head of the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) in 2007. UNDEF’s primary purpose is supporting democratization around the world by funding projects that strengthen the voice of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the participation of all groups in democratic processes. Mr. Rich is concurrently Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP) which serves as a gateway for corporate and philanthropic partnership opportunities with the UN family. Prior to his appointment to UNDEF, Mr. Rich was a member of the directing staff at the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies of the Australian Defence College, teaching and mentoring colonel-level officers undertaking a master’s degree in international relations. In 2005 Mr. Rich was a research Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC. Between 1998 and 2005, Mr. Rich was the Foundation Director of the Centre for Democratic Institutions at the Australian National University which is Australia’s democracy promotion institute undertaking projects in the Asia-Pacific region. Mr. Rich joined the Australian foreign service in 1975 and had postings in Paris, Rangoon, Manila and, from 1994-1997, as Australian Ambassador to Laos. He has also served as Legal Advisor and Assistant Secretary for International Organisations in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Mr. Rich has also contributed to the scholarly literature on democracy and democracy promotion. In 2004, together with Edward Newman, he edited a publication entitled The UN Role in Promoting Democracy published by United Nations University Press which examined the areas of comparative advantage the UN had in this field. His most recent publication, in 2007, is Pacific Asia in Quest of Democracy published by Lynne Rienner Publishers which surveys the current state of democratic consolidation among the countries along Asia’s Pacific Rim.