OSI and UNDP Announce New Fund to Support Governance Reform in Georgia

President-elect Saakashvili discusses program at World Economic Forum today with UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown and OSI Chairman George Soros

DAVOS, Switzerland—In a joint news conference with Georgian president-elect Mikheil Saakashvili at the World Economic Forum today, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Mark Malloch Brown and philanthropist George Soros, founder of the Open Society Institute (OSI), announced the creation of a new Capacity Building Fund to support governance reforms in Georgia .

"We welcome this new fund and the support from UNDP and OSI, which should help sustain Georgia in this critical period of structural reforms," President-elect Saakashvili said.

This $2 million seed fund, provided by OSI and the UNDP, will be used to support key administrative and legal reforms in Georgia .

“Georgia seeks to build an open society—and for that, its civil servants need the skills to implement reforms and respond to public demands,” George Soros said.

The Capacity Building Fund for Georgia will provide funding for the design of a thorough reform package. Reform of the public administration is one of the priorities of the country and will support the fight against corruption.

The Fund will allow the government to call on the services of local, international and expatriate experts who can assist in the planning and implementation of these key reforms.

“This fund will help Georgia harness the enormous political enthusiasm there now and, using appropriate expertise and effective programs, transform that energy into sound and lasting reforms," Malloch Brown said.

Working in collaboration, OSI and UNDP have been supporting similar programs in Serbia and Montenegro . As in the case of South East Europe, the new Georgian Capacity Building Fund will also seek to tap the expertise of the diaspora by giving incentives to those who choose to return home to work in public service. The fund is open to contributions from other donors and efforts are currently underway to bolster international support for Georgia 's ambitious reform program.

Experience in Georgia

UNDP has been on the ground in Georgia for the last 10 years, moving gradually away from relief assistance and into human development and economic growth. Over this period, managing a $40 million portfolio of development programs, UNDP has helped to establish local human rights institutions, improve access to information technology in government ministries, provide assistance to internally displaced persons, and helped address environmental challenges by focusing on conservation of natural resources.

OSI in 1994 established the Open Society Georgia Foundation, which is governed and managed by Georgian nationals who determine its strategic priorities. The foundation has spent some $40 million on a wide range of projects aimed at strengthening civil society, including the implementation of a far-reaching educational reform program, anti-corruption initiatives, legal reforms, development of the independent media, arts and culture, training of local government officials, electoral support, and aiding scientific research.

Experience in Serbia and Montenegro

The program in Georgia builds on the collaboration between UNDP and the Open Society Institute in establishing a Capacity Building Fund in Serbia in March 2001, with the ultimate goal of strengthening the ability of the new government to develop and implement its reform agenda. The Serbian program has become a $6 million, multi-donor initiative that has provided technical support and advisory services from national and international experts to more than twenty ministries and institutions engaged in reforming systems of public administration, social welfare, economic growth and privatization, rule of law, and addressing minority concerns.

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For more information from UNDP, please contact Laura Ngo-Fontaine at laura.ngo-fontaine@undp.org , tel: +41-79-570-44-18, or Sandra Pralong at Sandra.Pralong@undp.org , tel. 421-908-729-846.

About the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

The UNDP is the United Nation's global development network, focused on helping countries build and share solutions to the challenges of democratic governance, poverty reduction, crisis prevention and recovery, energy and environment, and information and communications technology. It is on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. [www.undp.org ]

About the Open Society Institute (OSI)

OSI is a private operating and grantmaking foundation based in New York City that serves as the hub of the Soros foundations network, a group of autonomous foundations and organizations in more than 50 countries. OSI and the network implement a range of initiatives that aim to promote open societies by shaping government policy and supporting education, media, public health, and human and women's rights, as well as social, legal, and economic reform. To diminish and prevent the negative consequences of globalization, OSI seeks to foster global open society by increasing collaboration with other nongovernmental organizations, governments, and international institutions.

OSI was founded in 1993 by investor and philanthropist George Soros to support his foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Those foundations were established, starting in 1984, to help former communist countries in their transition to democracy. The Soros foundations network has expanded its geographic reach to include foundations and initiatives in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Mongolia, Southeast Asia, Turkey, and the United States. OSI also supports selective projects in other parts of the world.