The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (IVD) 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.
IVD offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions – at local, national and international levels – to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Over the years, rallies, parades, community volunteering projects, environmental awareness, free medical care and advocay campaigns have all featured prominently on IVD.
These events are led by IVD national committees comprising partners from the UN system, governments, civil society organizations (including national and/or international volunteer involving organizations) and committed individuals. Some IVD committees also include representatives from the media, academia, foundations, the private sector, faith groups, and sports and recreational organizations.
In response to calls by volunteer groups and governmental representatives around the world, the United Nations General Assembly in November 2002 adopted Resolution A/RES/57/106, which invited the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme to develop a global Internet volunteer resource to take forward gains made during the International Year of Volunteers (IYV) 2001 through expanded networking and knowledge management. UNV responded by launching the World Volunteer Web on 5 December 2002. Since then this website is the global focal point for the IVD campaign.
The critical question is, however, what happens on 6 December? Newspapers may turn their attention elsewhere and sound bites may fade away, but the work of volunteers goes on with or without publicity and well-deserved recognition. The spirit of IVD must live on as well. In its 2001 resolution, the United Nations General Assembly called on “governments, with the active support of the media, civil society and the private sector, to observe 5 December, IVD, and to include activities focused on following-up on the achievements of IYV”.
Encouraging more people to volunteer is a 365-days-a-year task. If you consider the committed work of volunteers of all ages around the globe, carrying out every imaginable kind of activity, IVD should be a day that never ends.