United Nations Volunteers

UNV  Logo. Credit: DRUNV Logo. Credit: DR

"At the heart of volunteerism are the ideals of service and solidarity and the belief that together we can make the world a better place. In that sense, we can say that volunteerism is the ultimate expression of what the United Nations is all about.”- Kofi Annan, Former United Nations Secretary General.

The United Nations Volunteer Program (UNV) program was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 1970 at the request of member States, in order to create a development partner for United Nations system organizations.

The program’s vision is of a world where volunteers are recognized by society as a way for men and women from every country to create peace and foster development by eradicating poverty while significantly reducing inequalities and exclusion. The volunteer program benefits both society as a whole and the individual volunteer by building confidence, solidarity, and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation.

The program missions are to make the public more aware of the volunteer program and its contribution to development, to provide technical support to the development of the volunteer program, and to mobilize volunteers nationally and internationally. The priorities under UNV Strategic Framework 2014-2017 are:

  • Youth;
  • Consolidating peace; 
  • Ensuring access to essential social services;
  • Supporting community resilience in the face of environmental challenges and reducing risks of catastrophe;
  • Developing national capacities through volunteer programs.

The UNV program, active in more than 140 countries, mobilizes close to 8,000 volunteers annually, who are involved in programs supporting development and in humanitarian and peace-keeping operations. The UNV program recruits very diverse profiles and offers a wide range of opportunities for volunteers. To learn more about the UNV program and/or to apply for a volunteer mission, visit the UNV Program website (http://www.unv.org).

The UNV Program in the DRC

a) Mobilizing volunteers

The UNV Unit in the DRC is made up of 2 organizations within the UNDP and MONUSCO, which work together in order to meet common goals. In particular, the work performed by national and international volunteers allows the UNDP to support United Nations Agencies, as well as the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). Volunteers demonstrate the benefits of civil engagement by integrating the volunteer program into the fields of community mobilization, access to essential social services, peace keeping, and community resilience to support the environment.

The UNV program in the DRC, in terms of actual numbers, is one of the largest in the world. In 2014, more than one hundred volunteers served in eight United Nations Agencies. About 70% of them were from the south of the country and worked towards peace and sustainable human development. The average age was 33 years old, and 40% of volunteers were women. During the same year, nearly 600 volunteers worked with MONUSCO. They worked in substantive positions or to support peace-keeping operations and were deployed to about twenty different locations, although primarily in the east of the country, where peace-keeping operations are concentrated. 100 volunteers also provided valuable long-distance support by volunteering online (www.onlinevolunteering.org). These were mainly missions involving revisions, translations, layout, or even graphic design.  

Whether they are working with the peace-keeping mission or a United Nations Agency, the contributions of volunteers create increased access to opportunities and services, better service offerings, greater integration, and participation in the development and mobilization of communities. 

Mobilizing volunteers also consists of recruiting Congolese candidates for national volunteer missions and assigning volunteers internationally to support UN peace-keeping and United Nations Agency missions. In 2014, about fifty Congolese volunteers were sent from the DRC on international missions. Nearly 90% of international volunteers recruited in the DRC were deployed throughout Africa. Worldwide, Congolese volunteers from the DRC are the 3rd most represented nationality among UNV. 

b) Promoting and supporting the development of the volunteer program

The UNV Program is promoting the volunteer program in the DRC, notably by supporting the National Volunteering Secretariat (NVS), which is the organization responsible for coordinating volunteer activities in the country. The NVS is associated with the Ministry of Planning and Monitoring Implementation of the Revolution of Modernity. It was created under the Ministerial Decree of 2002, in order to continue the momentum built by the International Year of Volunteers (2001). The support of the UNVP essentially consists of strengthening the development of the capacities of the National Volunteering Secretariat, in order to galvanize the promotion of the volunteer program, as well as civil society organizations, by local associations.

In keeping with its partnership with the National Volunteering Secretariat, the UNV program is supporting, in Goma, the efforts of civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations in promoting the volunteer program and active citizenship. Under the coordination of the UNV program, the Volunteers Platform was thereby created in 2013. It brings together 25 CSOs and NGOs that are active in North Kivu and is aimed at:

- Promoting the creation of networks between member associations;

- Strengthening member visibility through common actions and activities;

- Strengthening the capacities of member organizations to manage development projects.

If you would like more information on the UNV program, please review the 2014 DRC UNVP Activities Report or visit the UNV program website.