|United Nations Volunteers|
- What is UNV?
"At the heart of volunteerism are the ideals of service and solidarity and the belief that together we can make the world a better place. In that sense, we can say that volunteerism is the ultimate expression of what the United Nations is all about."
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
The United Nations Volunteers programme (UNV) is the volunteer arm of the United Nations. Created by the UN General Assembly in 1970 to serve as an operational partner in development cooperation at the request of UN member states, it mobilizes qualified UN Volunteers and encourages people to become active in volunteering in their countries. It is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and works through UNDP's country offices around the world.
Volunteering brings benefits to both society at large and the individual volunteer. It makes important contributions, economically as well as socially. It contributes to more cohesive societies by building trust and reciprocity among citizens. The United Nations Volunteers is the United Nations organization that supports sustainable human development globally through the promotion of volunteerism, including the mobilization of volunteers. It serves the causes of peace and development through enhancing opportunities for participation by all peoples. It is universal, inclusive and embraces volunteer action in all its diversity. It values free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity, which are the foundations of volunteerism.
Some 5,000 qualified and experienced women and men of nearly 160 nationalities serving each year in developing countries as UN Volunteers. Since 1971, some 30,000 UN Volunteers have worked in about 140 countries. Currently, nearly 70 per cent are citizens of developing countries while the remaining 30 per cent come from the industrialized world.
They work in technical cooperation with governments, with community-based initiatives, in humanitarian relief and rehabilitation and in support of human rights, electoral and peace-building processes. They are professionals who work on a peer basis. They listen and discuss; teach and train; encourage and facilitate. Volunteers also share and exchange ideas, skills and experience.
The UNV programme involves a wide spread of sectors: it maintains a roster covering 115 professional categories. Agriculture, health and education feature prominently, as do human rights promotion, information and communication technology, community development, vocational training, industry and population.
Over the years, they have served in about 140 countries. Today 40 per cent are at work in Africa, 26 percent in Asia and the Pacific, and 15 per cent in Central and Eastern Europe; the remainder is to be found in the Arab States, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Thirty per cent serve in the world's poorest nations -- the least developed. Half work outside capital cities, frequently in remote towns and villages. This is in response to expressed needs, and it reflects the commitment which volunteers bring. Included here are the field workers serving at the grassroots level in Asia, the Pacific and Africa. These are practitioners with excellent track records in village-level community work; they exchange skills and knowledge among countries of those regions.
It works in partnership with governments, UN Agencies, development banks and non-governmental and community-based organizations. The programmes within which UNV specialists serve are usually managed by governments; often there is technical input and supervision from one of the UN system's specialized agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) or from the World Bank. At the request of some governments UNV itself acts as executing agent.
Part of UNV's resources come from country and regional funds provided by UNDP. Other significant sources include: the regular programme budgets of UN agencies, contributions from host governments, special purpose grants by donor governments, and the UNV Special Voluntary Fund. Contributions to UNV's Special Voluntary Fund and other funds exceed $17 million annually.
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