United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme in Myanmar

unvVolunteerism is deep rooted in Myanmar culture and it has become stronger in a response to Cyclone Nargis in 2008. Photo: UNDP/Myanmar

The UN defines volunteerism as “an activity undertaken out of free will, for the general public good where monetary reward is not the principal motivating factor” (resolution 56/38).

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges, and it can transform the pace and nature of development. Volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation.

The UNV Programme was established by the United Nations General Assembly (GA) in December 1970 through resolution 2659 (XXV). Once primarily a provider of volunteers to the UN system in support of programme countries, UNV has evolved greatly over the last 42 years in terms of size and spread of its mandate. In 1976, the General Assembly broadened UNV’s mandate to promote the advancement of the role of youth in development and it was further expanded in 2011 as UN’s focal point to raise awareness of youth volunteerism and provide technical cooperation to developing countries to fully exploit the potential of volunteerism as a resource for achieving the MDGs, first, and to advance the post-2015 agenda later on. The year 2014 was a watershed for the Programme worldwide with the launch of its Strategic Framework and the implementation of a new way of doing businesses

 

UNV and Volunteerism in Myanmar

The Programme has been active in Myanmar since 1991 when the first Officer was fielded. Now working under the auspices of the UNV Strategic Framework 2014-2017, the recently established UNV Field Unit’s approach is three-pronged:

1.    Mobilizing high-skilled volunteers to support the work of UN Agencies and partners. Since 1991, almost 100 International UN Volunteers have been dispatched to the country under UNDP, WFP, UNHCR, UNFPA, OCHA and UNODC, whereas 400+ Myanmar citizens have served as International UN Volunteers abroad, mostly in Africa.

2.    Integrating youth and volunteerism across policy, legislation and programming. The Field Unit’s work is focused in Youth, Peacebuilding and DRR activities, collaboratively with other UN Agencies. A joint UNV/UNDP/UNICEF project has been approved in 2015 (138.000USD) to pilot the establishment of a Youth Volunteer Network for Disaster Risk Reduction under the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. Additionally, UNV is an active member of the Task Force for the establishment of a comprehensive and inclusive Youth Policy in Myanmar.

3.    Advocating for volunteerism and civic engagement in peace and development. UNV promotes networking among volunteer-involving organizations and youth groups in order to better integrate youth and volunteerism through public advocacy and awareness raising, capacity building and facilitating communication and interaction. As a core activity, we organized International Volunteer Day on 5th December and actively contribute to the International Youth Day celebrations on 12th August every year.

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