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Partnership pledges to promote volunteers’ role in social activism
06 June 2007

Johannesburg, South Africa: The indispensable role of volunteers in helping countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals is to be explored in a new co-publication by the CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE).

The three institutions recently launched this project as part of a renewed joint agreement to “promote and generate greater awareness of the contributions of volunteers and the value of volunteer action to society.”  

“This partnership is a timely step toward bridging the gap between volunteering and social activism,” said CIVICUS Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo. “While these two communities often overlap and join forces, as we see time and time again during mobilisations of the Global Call for action Against Poverty, more must be done to create synergy between these two worlds. Therefore our partnership is geared to promote new ways of coordination and engagement.”

CIVICUS recently welcomed UNV volunteer Karena Cronin at its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa to manage the research and the drafting of the joint publication.

The three signatories underscored the need to advance a shared understanding of volunteerism, specifically one that moves away from defining volunteering and social activism as mutually exclusive. The planned publication seeks to address this important issue and will showcase the powerful role of volunteering and activism for meeting development challenges, especially at the national and local levels.

“Efforts on the part of national governments to meet MDG targets, even when supported by the international community, will have a limited impact without significant volunteer contributions.” said Ad de Raad, Executive Director of UN Volunteers. “The beneficiaries of services need to be involved directly in the events and processes that affect their lives. Their active involvement and the involvement of millions like them are the key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”

In anticipation of the International Year of the Volunteer +10 in 2001, the organisations also agreed to pursue joint activities in support of international and national policy and legislation relating to volunteerism and to collaborate in celebrating International Volunteer Day on 5 December.

IAVE President Liz Burns commented, “We know that the MDG’s cannot be achieved without the active engagement of the world’s citizens as volunteers and activists. We must therefore work together to dismantle barriers like those which can still exist between ‘volunteers’ and ‘activists’. This joint initiative will be a means of identifying common ground and moving towards mutual recognition, leading in turn to a more effective combination of skills and approaches.” 

CIVICUS, UNV and IAVE have been working together since 2004 to strengthen the impact of volunteerism in achieving widely recognised goals of sustainable development, social justice and peace, including the MDG’s.