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Christian Friis Bach: No Development Without Democracy

“Human Rights are inherent to the dignity of the individual –and indivisible”. This was the message from the new Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Christian Friis Bach, as he Friday 28 October wrapped up the first day of the two-day conference “Youth for Democracy” hosted by Humanity in Action, Denmark and the Danish Senior Fellows Network. Read more

Support to Freedom and Justice Party Increases

As Egypt approaches its first democratic parliamentary election in November, support to the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Freedom and Justice Party appears to be increasing. This is the result of a recent survey by Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. Read more

Ulla Gade Bisgaard joins DIPD as Administrator

Ulla Gade Bisgaard has joined the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy as Administrator. She will be in charge of the administration of grants and ensure good governance of the interventions to support the new multi-party democracy projects led by Danish political parties, NGOs and think tanks in close cooperation with political sister parties, NGOs and think tanks in the developing countries.

Ulla Gade Bisgaard has extensive experience with administration of organisations, development, implementation and evaluation of programs and projects on international human rights, democracy and good governance having served with the UN and later acted as Head of Secretariat for an international NGO and a think tank in Denmark. Having a strong international profile and speaking several languages, Ulla is also very familiar with Danish party politics, the Danish political agendas including Danish international development programs.

Ulla holds a Masters Degree in International Relations and Sociology from 1998 from the University of Aalborg and the University of Copenhagen. Ulla worked with the UN in New York and Dar es Salaam from 1999-2002 and then returned to Denmark, where she was employed in the public sector for some years. She comes from a position as Head of Secretariat for the Danish think tank Cevea.

She will be assisting the Board, Director and Senior Advisor in all matters regarding budgets, reports and project applications, and will be in charge of all matters related to administration of the DIPD Secretariat. She will continue the work already begun on the organisational development of DIPD, and will facilitate the work of the Board.

Ulla Gade Bisgaard takes over the responsibility from Anja Riber Skydt, who has been with DIPD since its inception in 2010.

New Minister for Development Cooperation

Following the Danish Parliamentary election 15 September 2011, a new Danish Minister for Development Cooperation has been appointed. With several years of experience within the field of development assistance, Christian Friis Bach is an experienced and well-known figure in both the Danish and international development community.

After 10 years with a Liberal-Conservative government, tables have turned in Denmark. A new government consisting of Socialdemokraterne (The Social Democrats), Socialistisk Folkeparti (The Socialist People’s Party) and Radikale Venstre (The Social Liberal Party) has entered the political stage – and a new Minister for Development Cooperation has taken over.

The 45-year old Christian Friis Bach from Radikale Venstre may be new to the Danish Parliament (Folketinget), but he is by no means inexperienced within the field of development cooperation: as former International Director for Danchurch Aid, Chairman of Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke (now MS/Actionaid), consultant at the World Bank, Danish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and UNDP as well as member of numerous organisations, the newly appointed Minister for Development Cooperation is well-experienced within the field and well-known in the development community in both Denmark and abroad.

Human Rights in Focus

Just a week following his appointment, Christian Friis Bach has already strongly emphasized the need for changes in the strategy for Danish development cooperation.  First and foremost by emphasizing the need to have human rights as the focal point for future assistance:

“Development assistance is our contribution to secure the global realization of the human rights to which we are all signatories. These include civil and political rights as well as economic and social rights. The Ministry for Development Cooperation must be based on this foundation”, the newly appointed Minister stresses in an interview in the Danish Newspaper Berlingske 4. October 2011.

To perceive development assistance as a contribution to the realization of human rights worldwide rather than as charity, calls for greater transparency in the work undertaken and responsibility vis-à-vis the target group. Christian Friis Bach emphasizes that “not only the Danes – but also the target group, which we are trying to help, must be given the opportunity to voice their dissatisfaction if we are not doing our job properly”.

Also DIPD has found its way into the Foreign Policy strategy of the newly established government. According to the newly released government policy platform, human rights, good governance, the rule of law and support to democratic institutions are to be key elements of Danish Foreign policy. In case of the latter, the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy must, in line with the mandate of the institute, “contribute to the establishment of popularly rooted democratic political parties in the developing countries”.