07 July 2003
Three global leaders in volunteering and citizen action have finalized an agreement to help enhance the impact of volunteers for peace and development worldwide.
Under the accord, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS), the International Association of Volunteer Effort (IAVE) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme will identify key areas of collaboration, including promotion and advocacy campaigns, publications, studies on volunteerism and joint publicity for volunteer initiatives.
"Volunteers are indeed the backbone of civil society," said UNV Executive Coordinator Sharon Capeling-Alakija. "Without millions of volunteers everywhere, we will be hard pressed to meet clear targets for the poor, such as those spelled out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This partnership is an important step towards creating awareness that civil society -- and the volunteers who energize it -- is a vital force at the centre of development work."
The main objective of the collaboration is to undertake joint activities that “serve to promote and generate greater awareness of the contributions of volunteers and the value of volunteer action to society”, according to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the executives of each organization.
“The impact of the work of volunteers is evident in communities everywhere, at local, national and international levels,” said IAVE President Elizabeth Burns. “This new partnership brings fresh recognition of the global importance of volunteering, and will be a means of building on from the success of the International Year of Volunteers.”
The three organizations are to discuss proposals for ways to use existing networks to increase awareness of voluntary action through the annual International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 5 December, which was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985. They are also looking at joint activities at international forums and conferences, as well as advocacy in support of international and national policy and legislation relating to volunteerism.
"This partnership is a significant step towards bridging the gap between volunteering and social activism," said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary-General and CEO of CIVICUS. “Already, there is a strong element of voluntarism in much advocacy work as social activists often give their time and skills freely to various causes. And the best advocacy work is drawn from a thorough understanding of local needs. Our partnership with UNV and IAVE offers the opportunity to create meaningful dialogue between different stakeholders working to overcome inequality at many levels of society.”