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What is UNV?

Origin and History

United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV) was established by the UN General Assembly in 1970, and is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Based in Bonn, Germany, UNV is active in around 130 countries every year. UNV, with Field Units in 86 countries, is represented worldwide through the offices of UNDP and reports to the UNDP Executive Board.

Initially, the organization’s role was to recruit, place and administer qualified volunteers, who provided support to UN agencies. In 1976, UN GA resolution broadened the UNV mandate to promote the advancement of the role of youth in development. In 2001, the UN GA further expanded UNV’s role as the UN’s focal point for raising awareness of volunteerism and providing technical cooperation to developing countries to harness the potential of volunteerism as a resource for achieving the MGDs.

International Year of Volunteering (IYV) and its tenth year anniversary celebrated in 2011 have raised the focus of UNV activities on recognition, facilitation, promotion and networking for volunteerism in development.



Volunteering brings benefits to both society at large and the individual volunteer. It makes important contributions, economically as well as socially. It contributes to a more cohesive society by building trust and reciprocity among citizens.



The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is inspired by the conviction that volunteerism can transform the pace and nature of development and by the idea that everyone can contribute their time and energy towards peace and development. With partners, UNV advocates for volunteerism, integrates volunteerism into development planning and mobilizes volunteers. The enormous potential of volunteerism is an inspiration to UNV and to volunteers around the world, with the values that sustain it: free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity.



UNV contributes to peace and development through volunteerism.


Key Expected Results
  • Advocated global recognition of volunteers for peace and development.
  • Ensured the integration of volunteerism into development programmes.
  • Mobilized increasing numbers and diversity of volunteers contributing to peace and development.


Example Activities
  • Promote volunteerism with UN Volunteers who serve for UN agencies.
  • Provide various volunteering opportunities to people in the world through UN volunteer assignments and Online Volunteer Service.


What is “Volunteering for Development”?

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is inspired by the conviction that volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges worldwide. Everyone can contribute their time, skills and knowledge through volunteer action, and their combined efforts can be a significant force for achieving peace and development.

The concept of volunteerism for development centres on optimizing volunteerism’s impact on peace and development. Achieving this requires the cooperation and commitment of the public sector, civil society and the private sector with support from the United Nations system and the world community. Individual citizens also have an important role to play through volunteering.

Volunteerism for development enhances the capacity of people to exercise choices to set and achieve their own development objectives, which can result in real improvements that benefit others as well as themselves. If development is to be effective and sustainable, the people affected by it must take ownership of, and give relevance to, its processes and drive them forward through civic engagement.

Every day, individuals are engaged in development initiatives through volunteer actions both large and small in an effort to improve conditions for others and themselves. Volunteerism by many millions of people is critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Volunteerism strengthens—and is strengthened by—trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and it can transform the pace and nature of development. Volunteerism is purposeful, creating opportunities for citizens to participate in development. Through volunteerism, more people participate in development, and at all levels of society, which empowers them and gives them a personal stake in their country’s future.

In this way, volunteerism fosters secure and stable environments conducive to the peaceful resolution of conflict. UNV strengthens the capacities of national partners, enabling local ownership of peace and development processes and encouraging recognition of volunteers and their cohesive engagement for peacebuilding.


For more information, please visit the website of UNV Programme ( http://www.unv.org/ )

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