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Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers – rallying the support of volunteers worldwide in tackling development challenges

arton3610The year 2011 marks the Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10). In November 1997, the General Assembly at its 52nd session proclaimed 2001 the International Year of Volunteers (A/Res/52/17), as an acknowledgement of the important contributions volunteers across the globe are making in promoting peace and addressing social, economic, and cultural issues that the world have faced. United Nations Volunteers (UNV) was designated as the focal point for the Year.

UNV since then has devoted itself to further integrate volunteerism into development planning and project implementation, marked by the annual celebration of the International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 5 December. On the occasion of the IYV+10, UNV is rallying the support of the international community for celebration of this year’s International Volunteer Day.

IYV+10 and the 2011 International Volunteer Day seeking for your engagement

The International Volunteer Day has served as an instrumental occasion to diffuse advocacy messages on the value of volunteerism across the globe. On the day, individual volunteers and volunteer-involving organizations all around the world will host campaigns and events to highlight their contributions to the achievement of the MDGs and rally further support for volunteer activities. The events are short-lived, but aim to make the zealous advocacy efforts for volunteerism more visible.

The designation of the IYV +10 also resonates with further upholding and recognizing the values of volunteers’ roles. The IYV 2001 set out four primary goals: promotion, recognition, facilitation and networking of volunteer services. Accordingly, 123 national committees were established and operating by the end of 2001 to facilitate local as well as cross-national engagement of volunteers. In 2003, the General Assembly also requested the UN Secretary-General to factor volunteerism into his reports on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration(A/RES/57/106). In 2004, the international community convened to discuss the contributory role volunteers can play in achieving the MDGs, in the “International Conference on Volunteerism & the Millennium Development Goals”. Furthermore, a How-to book on measuring volunteerism’s contribution was recently published by UNV with a view to providing a practical tool for assessing volunteers’ contributions in development scenes. The launching of the publication was prompted by the need for a more delicate coordination on volunteers’ activities in development project implementation, which reflects the increased recognition on the significance of volunteers’ roles.

The IYV and the ensued decade thus have marked the launching of systemic efforts to further a global-level advocacy for volunteerism. This has grounded in the acknowledgement of the role of volunteerism, which creates a participatory opportunity for individuals in building a better world while strengthening solidarity of societies at large. This year’s IVD provides a timely opportunity to take stock of the progress made throughout the past decade and reflect on the future role of volunteers in increasingly complex development scenes as well as how best to maximize the impacts of their actions in line with global goals. To this end, UNV has initiated a campaign entitled Volunteering Matters: Light up your World. Its focal point website allows interactive dialogues and social media engagement to share ideas on volunteerism. Photos of volunteering experiences are being collected from all over the world to ponder on why volunteering matters. Its slogan reads: “Help us showcase the power of volunteer action in every country.”

Click here to access the detailed contents of the campaign.


The United Nations Volunteers, UN’s dedicated arm mustering volunteers for peace and development

UN Volunteers is an organization dedicated to engaging volunteers worldwide in development projects, with a mission to promote sustainable and inclusive human development. The majority of its volunteers are assigned to support projects managed by governments, in which UN specialized agencies often play technical advisory roles. Every year, some 7,700 qualified individuals of more than 160 nationalities are selected and dispatched to developing countries under its mandate. Many of them are working under risk in high volatility regions, directly assisting the process of peacebuilding, peacekeeping, and humanitarian aid.

UNV’s areas of work span over 115 professional categories related to development, including agriculture; health; education; human rights promotion; information and communication technology; industry and population; vocational training, and so on. It advances the work of volunteers as a critical catalyst to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The organization also encourages active engagement of volunteers and local communities in implementing their own development projects, upon the belief that individuals have an important role to play in creating on-the-ground changes. To this end, around 30 % of its volunteers are assigned a role in their countries to particpate in their own national initiatives.

UNV sees volunteerism as a powerful means to mobilize all segments of society to become active partners in building a better world. One of its main challenges is to get the contributive role of volunteerism in meeting development goals broadly recognized, and to prompt governments to factor volunteer actions pertinently into their development projects. Consequently, UNV has developed awareness-raising campaigns and other tools highlighting the potentials of volunteerism, such as publications, on-line and off-line media, and outreach actions. For example, along with a number of other organizations, UNV has been operating the “World Volunteer Web”, where people can share logos, facts, and various other materials on volunteerism and the International Volunteer Day. Moreover, on 5 December, it will launch its first State of the World’s Volunteerism Report.









Other Links

Volunteering Matters downloads

UNV Online Volunteering Service

Volunteering and the United Nations System

The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to develop constructive relations between the UN and civil society organizations.


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