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Role of Volunteerism in the Promotion of Social Development
23 February 2001

For the first time in UN history, a substantive discussion on the role of volunteerism in the promotion of social development was held at the 39th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council's Commission for Social Development in February 2001. A special panel of experts, organized by the UNV programme, preceded the government debate. It resulted in a draft resolution (E/CAN/2001/L.4) adopted by the 46 members of the Commission.

The resolution:

  • recognizes the valuable contribution of traditional forms of mutual aid and self-help, service delivery and other forms of civic participation to economic and social development
  • recognizes that volunteerism is an important component of any strategy aimed at poverty reduction, sustainable development and social integration, in particular overcoming social exclusion and discrimination
  • welcomes the work of UNV and other parts of the UN system in supporting volunteerism and the role of UNV in particular as the focal point for IYV
  • also welcomes collecting and disseminating information about the Year through the IYV web site (
  • underlines the important action of Governments to develop policy measures to support volunteering appropriate to the national culture in partnership with the voluntary and private sectors
  • emphasizes that this does not imply support for government downsizing or replacing paid employment
  • lists several ways governments and the UN system can support volunteering
  • specifically in the case of governments, there is a call to have volunteerism taken into account in national development planning and for governments to consider the possible impact of general social and economic measures on citizen's ability and willingness to volunteer