11 October 2001
The United Nations' International Year of Volunteers (IYV 2001) is picking up speed as it enters its final stretch. More than 200 city, state and national committees in 124 countries are taking up a last round of activities in the largest celebration of volunteer action ever conceived.
Throughout the Year, committees formed at city, state and national levels have mobilized representatives of governments, civil society and the private sector to promote the four goals of IYV 2001: enhanced recognition, facilitation, promotion and networking of volunteers.
"It's been amazing to watch this Internet-driven year virtually explode in activities far too numerous to mention," said Sharon Capeling-Alakija, Executive Coordinator of the Bonn-based United Nations Volunteers (UNV) -- IYV's global focal point. "From coins, flags and postage stamps to IYV messages on scientific rockets in outer space: it's all been done."
During the year, lawmakers in France, Germany, Spain and the UK have passed pro-volunteer legislation, while new laws have been proposed in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Senegal and Tanzania.
During 2001, UNV and INDEPENDENT SECTOR, a US-based non-profit organization, released "Measuring Volunteering: A Practical Toolkit" -- a survey guide to measure the economic contribution of volunteering. The Toolkit was adapted for use in Botswana, China, Lao PDR, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Research on volunteering has also begun in Cambodia, Madagascar, Namibia, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
In addition to thousands of events organized worldwide, including Benetton's volunteer campaign in more than 50 countries, IYV enthusiasts composed 27 volunteer songs, created 50 national IYV web sites and drafted nearly 100 slogans. Some 18,000 individual volunteers and organizations are registered on the IYV web site, www.iyv2001.org.
A recently-released report of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on government and UN support for volunteering states: "Volunteerism is the backbone of many projects and programmes on the ground and underpins much of the campaigning for causes supported by the United Nations and resource mobilization."
There are several large-scale events in the coming months:
28-31 October 2001, Dakar, Senegal
The first IYV Francophone Regional Workshop is to discuss volunteering in the African context and strategize for volunteer activities beyond 2001.
7-9 November 2001 - Beijing, China
The 2001 International Conference on Volunteering, sponsored jointly by the Chinese National IYV Committee and UNDP/UNV, is to be held.
18-21 November 2001 - Geneva, Switzerland
The International Symposium on Volunteering is to gather representatives from all the IYV national Committees to discuss the outcomes of IYV 2001 and provide input in a common statement to be presented at the December 2001 session of the General Assembly.
5 December 2001 - New York, USA
The 56th session of the General Assembly is to hold two sessions on ways governments and the UN system can support volunteering.
The closing of the Year will be celebrated globally on 5 December - the annual International Volunteer Day.
In 2002, final results of an IYV review conducted by the Institute for Volunteering Research in the UK and the Development Resource Centre in South Africa will be released as part of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's report on the outcomes of IYV 2001.