International Volunteer Day is a chance for individual volunteers, communities and organizations to promote their contributions to development at the local, national and international levels. By combining UN support with a grassroots mandate, International Volunteer Day is a unique opportunity for people and volunteer-involving organizations to work with government agencies, non-profit institutions, community groups, academia and the private sector.
The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution A/RES/40/212 on 17 December 1985. Since then, governments, the UN system and civil society organizations have successfully joined volunteers around the world to celebrate the Day on 5 December.
A focus on partnership and development
Through the years, International Volunteer Day has been used strategically: many countries have focused on volunteers’ contributions to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, a set of time-bound targets to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women.
The organization of International Volunteer Day is generally the result of a partnership between the UN system, governments, volunteer-involving organizations and committed individuals. Representatives from the media or academia, foundations, the private sector, faith groups, and sports and recreational organizations are often involved too.
The General Assembly invited Governments to observe annually, on 5 December, an International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (resolution 40/212 of 17 December 1985) and urged them to take measures to heighten awareness of the important contribution of volunteer service, thereby stimulating more people in all walks of life to offer their services as volunteers, both at home and abroad.
The United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 52/17 of 20 November 1997 proclaimed 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers (IYV) The year was conceived for the purpose of furthering the recognition of volunteers, facilitating their work creating a network of communication and promoting the benefits of voluntary service.
In 2001, the International Year of Volunteers, the General Assembly adopted a set of recommendations on ways in which Governments and the United Nations system could support volunteering and asked that they be given wide dissemination (resolution 56/38 of 5 December 2001).
On 18 December 2008 the General Assembly decided that on or around 5 December 2011, the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, two plenary meetings of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly should be devoted to follow-up to the International Year and the commemoration of its tenth anniversary (resolution 63/153).
The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 57/106 of 22 November 2002, called upon the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme to ensure that the potential of International Volunteer Day is fully realized.