Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

International Volunteer Day
5 December

Secretary-General's Message for 2012

As we celebrate the impact of volunteers on our world, let us remember the many places they are needed: in war zones and classrooms, in hospitals and homes – wherever struggling people seek a helping hand. 

Let us also remember that volunteering can embrace all people, from the activist who works full-time for a cause to the occasional citizen who reaches out when he or she can.  Each sets an example of the spirit of compassion we need.  Each makes a valuable contribution to reaching our common goals.

The timeless act of volunteering in the service of others has taken on new dimensions in today’s digital age.  Anyone with an Internet connection or a mobile phone can make a difference.

I applaud all people who volunteer each year for the benefit of their communities.  I am especially grateful to the 7,700 United Nations Volunteers who support efforts to prevent conflicts, help societies recover from fighting, promote sustainable development, assist in crisis situations and carry out numerous other projects for the greater good.  Their work has advanced the Millennium Development Goals, and I am confident they will also contribute to the progress on the post-2015 development agenda.

Founded on the values of solidarity and mutual trust, volunteerism transcends all cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries.  By giving their time and skills without expectation of material reward, volunteers themselves are uplifted by a singular sense of purpose.

On this Day, let us renew our determination to offer strength and inspiration to others through volunteerism.

Ban Ki-moon

Previous Secretary-General's Messages

UN Web Services Section, Department of Public Information, © United Nations