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Volunteers are powerful force for peace and development – UN report

Article / Review by on December 5, 2011 – 8:39 pmNo Comments

Volunteers are powerful force for peace and development – UN report

Volunteers are powerful force for peace and development

Stressing that volunteerism contributes to the well-being of individuals, communities and society, a new United Nations report released today urges countries not to forget this largely untapped asset.

The State of the World’s Volunteerism Report by UN Volunteers (UNV) presents for the first time empirical evidence of the importance and contribution of volunteerism on a global scale.

It was released today on the occasion of International Volunteer Day, which is observed annually on 5 December and which this year also marks the 10th Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers.

“Since the International Year of Volunteers in 2001, we’ve had greater recognition of the achievements of volunteerism, but it has not been enough,” said Robert Leigh, senior writer of the report.

We hope through this report that everyone will recognize volunteerism as an essential and as yet under-utilized sustainable, renewable asset for making all our lives better ones.

“We hope through this report that everyone will recognize volunteerism as an essential and as yet under-utilized sustainable, renewable asset for making all our lives better ones,” he told a special meeting held at UN Headquarters to mark the Day.

The report gives recognition to the millions, perhaps billions, who are volunteering their time and energy for the well-being of their communities, said Mr. Leigh, noting that many are doing crucial peace and development work in disaster, environmental or in humanitarian situations.

“The report challenges perceptions which obscure the true dimensions and impact of volunteerism,” he said. “Volunteering does not only occur through formal, structured civil society organizations in developed countries, by well-off, educated, unskilled older women.”

The report documents volunteerism through local community groups in income poor communities around the world. National volunteer studies identify almost equal numbers of men and women volunteers, involvement of the public and private sector in volunteering, as well as strong civic participation by young people.

“We cannot ignore this wealth anymore,” stated Mr. Leigh. “We cannot ignore this largely untapped asset that can be a powerful force for the future of development.”

UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri told the meeting that it is only fair to recognize the contributions of volunteers to peace, development and global well-being. “It is equally important to commit continued support to these people who, through their volunteerism, light up our world with their commitment to these values,” she said.

Established 40 years ago, UNV deploys nearly 8,000 volunteers every year. Through UN agencies, funds and programmes, peacekeeping and special political missions, these unsung heroes have worked in about 130 countries, contributing to the UN’s global agenda and supporting national development efforts.

“With the world population having surpassed seven billion this year, we must tap every person’s potential to help others. Everyone can make a difference,” said Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, reading a message from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“All over the globe, millions of volunteers are helping to advance sustainable development and peace,” she said, noting that this engagement takes many forms, including volunteering organizations, individuals working on their own in their communities, and service with the UN and its partners as UN Volunteers.

General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser stated that volunteerism matters in reaching the UN anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as in humanitarian responses, poverty reduction, and sustainability.

It also involves overcoming social exclusion and discrimination, strengthens values based on collaboration and partnership, and helps to build a better world, he added in his remarks, which were read out to the meeting by Assembly Vice President and Ambassador of Hungary Csaba Körösi.

“Volunteering is the people-centred approach to peace, humanitarian response, and sustainable development. It strengthens trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens. It empowers change from the grassroots up, especially when enabled by strong partnerships at every level,” he added.

UNV has organized a series of events to showcase the work of volunteers as part of celebrations for the Day, including a multimedia exhibition entitled “Volunteers of the World” that is on display at UN Headquarters in New York. The exhibition aims to demonstrate the universality of the volunteer ethic in people of all walks of life.

The final mosaic of Light up our world, a three-month UNV photographic project that illustrates the power of volunteer action across the planet, will also be on display.

###

Secretary-General’s Message for International Volunteer Day

New York, 5 December 2011  Beginning with the words “We the peoples”, the United Nations Charter reminds us that crafting solutions to global challenges is a job not only for Governments, but for people, communities and civil society. On International Volunteer Day, we recognize the dedication of volunteers, their admirable spirit of service, and their wide-ranging efforts to promote the goals of the United Nations. With the world population having surpassed seven billion this year, we must tap every person’s potential to help others. Everyone can make a difference. Volunteering matters. All over the globe, millions of volunteers are helping to advance sustainable development and peace. This engagement takes many forms: volunteering organizations, individuals working on their own in their communities, and service with us and our partners as UN Volunteers. This year’s first-ever State of the World’s Volunteerism Report showcases the impact that volunteers have made. I congratulate the UN Volunteers programme and commend the many millions of volunteers working for sustainable development, humanitarian assistance, environmental preservation, and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. With passion and commitment, they are helping to show how volunteering can change the world. As we mark International Volunteer Day, I encourage policymakers to do even more to support and welcome volunteerism, and I urge everyone to consider what they can do to join the movement. ### > United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

### * The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN) ** More information at United Nations (UN) More about United Nations (UN)

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