What is UNV?

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide.
Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges, and it can transform the pace and nature of development. Volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation.
UNV contributes to peace and development by advocating for recognition of volunteers, working with partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming, and mobilizing an increasing number and diversity of volunteers, including experienced UNV volunteers, throughout the world. UNV embraces volunteerism as universal and inclusive, and recognizes volunteerism in its diversity as well as the values that sustain it: free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity.
Based in Bonn, Germany, UNV is active in 140 countries. It is represented worldwide through the offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and reports to the UNDP Executive Board.

Who are the UN Volunteers?

Some 7,000 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. See the Volunteer Statistics.

Who is in charge?

 Read about the UNV Executive Coordinator, Mr Olivier Adam.

What do they do?

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.

Where are they working?

Over the years, they have served in about 140 countries. Today 40 per cent are at work in Africa, 26 per cent in Asia and the Pacific, and 15 per cent in Central and Eastern Europe; the remainder are 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.

In which sectors do they work?

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.

How does the programme operate?

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.

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