Volunteering for the World We Want: Annual Report of United Nations Volunteers


an article by Richard Dictus, Executive Coordinator, United Nations Volunteers (abridged)

I am pleased to present the UNV Annual Report for 2013, which depicts the work and achievements of UN Volunteers in addressing the challenges of peace and sustainable human development. This report highlights UNV’s partnerships and results, and attests to the commitment, creativity and talent of our UN Volunteers, UN Youth Volunteers and UN Online Volunteers.

click on photo to enlarge

On International Volunteer Day 2013, UN Volunteers organized activities with school children to raise awareness on volunteerism in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (Alexandra de Bournonville/UNV, 2013)

In 2013, 6,351 United Nations Volunteers were deployed to 129 countries. They contributed to the effective delivery of the peace and development interventions of 34 UN system partners. Of these, 1,021 were UN Youth Volunteers. Additionally, 11,328 UN Online Volunteers completed over 17,370 assignments. Many of these worked together with UN Youth Volunteers on advancing the UN global consultations to shape the post-2015 development agenda, as part of our partnership with the United Nations Millennium Campaign and the World We Want 2015/MY World initiatives. Through this most innovative collaboration, UN Volunteers amplified the voices of marginalized and disenfranchised people who would not have been able to respond to a web-based UN-language questionnaire without this support.

I have taken time during my travels to connect with UN Volunteers, particularly our UN Youth Volunteers. For instance, during my visit to Burkina Faso, I was pleased to see the outcome of proactive collaboration between an internationalUN Volunteer and a Red Cross volunteer. Working with men and women, the volunteers established innovative shelters for the refugee camp community that were acceptable in traditional terms, durable in climate conditions and low in cost. This model is now being adopted across the Sahel. . .

The new Strategic Framework reflects UNV‘s focus on working more systematically with United Nations and other partners to jointly deliver stronger results for peace and development. Recent Memoranda of Understanding signed with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN-Habitat further cement existing partnerships and plans.

True to its mandate, UNV continued to engage people, particularly youth, in development processes and contribute to development impact. We provide our partners with the best quality volunteers, who increase the sustainability, effectiveness and efficiency of joint interventions.

At the end of September 2014, UNV is convening a forum to provide a platform for UNV’s longstanding and new partners to share good practices and experiences in promoting volunteering for peace and development. The Forum will also provide an opportunity for UNV to share with partners its key achievements in 2013, its new strategic focus,as well as opportunities for partnering with UNV.

As the new sustainable development agenda takes shape, UNV is poised to deliver more talent and more results for peace and development. I applaud our volunteers and salute our partners: let us continue volunteering for the world we want.

[Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.]

Question related to this article:


Can the UN help move the world toward a culture of peace?

The following comes from the CPNN Coordinator’s blog of October 2012

The United Nations and the Culture of Peace

My ten years working in the United Nations system left me with a sweet and sour taste: the sweet side was the universality of the UN, both its staff and mandate, and its great significance for raising the consciousness of the peoples of the world; the sour side was the jealousy of the Member States who make sure that the UN does not encroach on their freedom to rule over their own citizens, as well as people in other countries that they may dominate through neo-colonial relations. This became crystal-clear to me when the United States delegate, during the informal meetings of the UN General Assembly in 1999, opposed the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, saying that it would make it more difficult for them to start a war. In fact, throughout history, war (call it “defense” if you prefer) has always been the most fundamental “right” of the state

With this in mind, I have been pleasantly surprised by the extent to which the UN system has once again taken up the culture of peace as a priority, as shown in this month’s CPNN bulletin, just as it was a priority in the Year 2000 when I was the director of the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace

Of course, this does not happen by chance, and great credit belongs to two men who played key roles for the Year 2000, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, who made the culture of peace a priority of UNESCO, and Anwarul Chowdhury, who played the role of midwife at the UN General Assembly, guiding the culture of peace resolution through nine months of opposition by the powerful states. Once again, this last month, these two men motivated and spoke eloquently at the High Level Forum on a Culture of Peace at the UN

As always it was the countries of the South who supported the initiative (see the CPNN article of September 24 and its discussion), but at least this month it was not blocked by the powerful states

In fact, it is my impression that the powerful states pay less and less attention to the United Nations. When there was a financial crisis a few years ago, the powerful states did not turn to the UN agencies , the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but set up their own temporary system of finance ministers, and when it came time for the review of nuclear non-proliferation, President Obama held his own meeting with heads of state in Washington and ignored the UN conference where the only head of state to speak was that of Iran. And the US has pulled out of UNESCO entirely, forcing drastic cuts in its budget

In fact, the lack of attention by the powerful states may provide the UN system with an opportunity to push the agenda of the culture of peace without their opposition – let us hope that the UN can take advantage of this

Of course, in the long run, the UN, or any other institution, cannot mandate a culture of peace; instead, the culture of peace can only grow from the consciousness, both understanding and action, of the peoples of the world (see last month’s blog below). That’s why the role of the UN for consciousnes-raising is ultimately its greatest contribution!