Volunteer organizations team up to promote citizen action
07 July 2003

Bonn: Three global leaders in volunteering and citizen action today 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 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."

CIVICUS <http://www.civicus.org/new/default.asp> is an international alliance established in 1993 to nurture the foundation, growth and protection of citizen action throughout the world, especially in areas where participatory democracy and citizens' freedom of association are threatened. CIVICUS has a membership standing of over 650 organizations in more than 105 countries constituting a network of over 30,000 organizations, most of which are in the developing world. CIVICUS is involved in policy development, advocacy and capacity building for its membership and other civil society organizations around the world. CIVICUS is an international non-governmental organization with special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

IAVE <http://www.iave.org/> , as a global leadership organization for volunteering, promotes, supports and strengthens volunteering as a fundamental building block of civil society. IAVE is a worldwide network organization, with individual and organizational members in almost 100 countries. Members include volunteers, volunteer centres and volunteer organizations. IAVE is governed by an elected international Board of Directors. It has appointed National Representatives in 45 countries and national associations have been formed in 12 countries. IAVE is an international non-governmental organization with special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and associative status with the UN Department of Public Information.

Based in Bonn, Germany, UNV is the volunteer arm of the UN system supporting peace, relief and development initiatives in nearly 150 countries. Created by the UN General Assembly in 1970 and administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNV works through UNDP country offices and a network of international organizations to mobilize more than 5,000 UN Volunteers annually, 70 percent of whom come from developing nations. It also supports thousands of other individuals participating in the work of the United Nations for development as online volunteers. The United Nations General Assembly has designated UNV as focal point for the follow-up to the International Year of Volunteers, a further opportunity to promote the ideals of volunteerism around the world.

From: Civicus

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