Roland Rich, an Australian national, is Executive Head of the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), a United Nations General Trust Fund, with the primary purpose of supporting democratisation around the world. It supports 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 partnership opportunities with the UN family.
Mr Rich brings to the job over 30 years of experience as a diplomat, a scholar and a democracy promotion practitioner. Prior to his appointment to UNDEF, Mr Rich was 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 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 Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Mr Rich has contributed to the scholarly literature on democracy and democracy promotion. In 2004, together with Edward Newman, he edited 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 book, 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.