How to Volunteer

 UNV Mongolia 2005

UNV embraces volunteerism as universal and inclusive, and recognizes volunteerism in its diversity as well as the values that sustain it: free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity.

Everyone can contribute their time, skills and knowledge through volunteer action. If you have free will, commitment, and want to engage and express solidarity for peace and development, you are welcome to join us as a UN Volunteer. UN Volunteers are highly motivated and inspirational, and are committed to the principles, ideals and code of conduct of the United Nations.

Who are UN Volunteers

 UNV Mongolia 2008

UN Volunteers are highly motivated and inspirational, and are committed to the principles, ideals and code of conduct of the United Nations.

International UN Volunteers

The mandate of UNV has been evolving continuously since its establishment in 1970 by the United Nations General Assembly (GA) resolution 26/59 which set up “...with effect from 1 January 1971 an international group of volunteers, the members of which shall be designated collectively and individually as United Nations Volunteers”. Through Resolution 31/131 of 16 December 1976, the UN General Assembly decided that UNV was “a major operational unit of the United Nations for the execution of youth programmes.”

National UN Volunteers

The national UN Volunteer modality was formally established in 1992 through the UNDP Governing Council decision 92/35, which called for “greater mobilization of human resources in developing countries through mixed teams of international and national volunteers in UNV activities.” In decision 2006/18 the UNDP Executive Board welcomed “the increased involvement of nationally recruited volunteers in UNV activities and encouraged continued efforts in this direction, noting its potential for capacity development and sustainability

Types, Eligibility and Qualifications of UN Volunteers

Types of UN Volunteers

Eligibility & Qualifications

Duration of Assignment

International UN Volunteers:
Serve in countries other than the country of own nationality; Global recruitment by UNV HQ; and governed under the Conditions of Service (COS)  for International UN Volunteers

International UN Volunteers (Regular)

Age Limits: At least 25 years old (no upper age limits).

Qualifications: With a university degree or higher technical diploma, the requisite professional skills and qualifications for the relevant assignment and a minimum of 2 to 5 years of relevant experience.

Language Requirements: Full command of UN working language in the country.

From 3 months up to 4 years

(When a minimum of 10 years have passed since the end of the previous national UN Volunteer service period reached maximum 4 years, one can resume a national UN Volunteer service)

International UN Volunteers (Short-term regular)

The same qualification required as for a regular international UN Volunteer Regular assignment

(Reference: Inter-Office Meme from UNV HQ and the Policy Note and COS taking effect as of 1 July 2013)

Short term less than 3 months up to 12 months (can be extended to a regular assignment)

International UN Youth Volunteers (Regular)

Age Limits: Between 18 and 29 years of age.

Qualifications: Qualified young volunteer typically with Masters degree plus one to three years relevant work experiences.

Objective: Provide UN Youth Volunteer with the opportunities to volunteer in their respective fields of specialization and enhance their professional and life skills. (Fully funded and selected by the participating donor governments for their nationalities).

From 6 months up to 2 years maximum

International UN Youth University Volunteers

Age Limits: Between 18 and 29 years of age.

Qualifications: Qualified young volunteer enrolled in undergraduate university degree at the time of serving.

Objective: Provide UN Youth University Volunteer with the opportunities to volunteer in their respective fields of specialization and enhance their professional and life skills. (Fully funded and selected by the participating donor governments for their nationalities).

From 3 months up to 6 months

National UN Volunteers:
Serve in the country of own nationality; 
Local recruitment by UNV Field Unit in the country; and governed under the Conditions of Service (COS)  for National UN Volunteers

National regular UN Volunteers and Community Volunteers

Age Limits: At least 22 years old

Qualifications (Regular): With at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent professional experience and the requisite professional skills and qualifications for the relevant assignment.

Qualifications (Community Volunteer): With strong community presence, local knowledge and networks who often live and work in their own communities and tend to have at least a high-school diploma.

Language Requirements: All national UN Volunteers should be able to read and write and communicate effectively in one or more local languages, and be able to communicate in the UN working language in the country. The last requirement may not apply in the case of community volunteers.

From 3 months up to 4 years 


(When a minimum of 10 years have passed since the end of the previous national UN Volunteer service period reached maximum 4 years, one can resume a national UN Volunteer service)

 

Common Qualifications both for international and national UN Volunteers:

 

Commitment to Service (Motivation to serve others rather than a desire for financial reward):  

A key feature of all UN Volunteers is a personal commitment to service. Financial compensation is limited to what is required to meet basic living expenses. The commitment to service is emphasized in advertisements and is assessed in the recruitment and interview process. 

Technical Competencies (Education, professional experience and maturity):

  • The candidates must demonstrate the required level of education, relevant professional experience and the requisite maturity, character and strengths in order to be selected as UN Volunteers (including the abilities to work in a multi-cultural environment and to adjust to difficult living conditions and strong interpersonal and organizational skills etc.)
  • For each national UN Volunteer assignment, specific requirements in terms of education, age and experience as well as required competencies are set out in the individual Description of Assignment (DoA)
Language Requirements (UN working language in the country):
 
All UN Volunteers should be able to read and write and communicate effectively in UN working language in the country (which may not apply in the case of National UN Community Volunteers).
 

Legal and Operational Frameworks of UN Volunteer assignments

 

Common to both International and National UN Volunteers:

  • UN Volunteer contract is established between the UN Volunteer, Host entity and UNV/UNDP and a systematic contract administration and assignment management are made by UNV.
  • UN Volunteer assignments are fully governed by the Conditions of Service (COS) for International UN Volunteers (last updated in 2015) and for National UN Volunteers (taking effect as of 1 July 2012) respectively, which reflects the volunteer nature of the assignments within the framework of the United Nations system. The basic principle throughout is to ensure reasonableness, fairness and consistency in guidelines for the UN Volunteer assignment.
  • UNV Identification Card: UN Volunteers are not UN staff members and hence, not issued with a UN Laissez Passer. An UNV ID Card is an official document and is intended to help secure the courtesies and facilities offered by the national authorities to UN personnel. It is not intended to replace or substitute the official national identification or travel documents. An UNV ID Card will be issued to an individual UN Volunteer upon the completion of contract administration.
  • International UN Volunteers: Under the UN General Assembly mandate, the UNV programme is administratively part of the UNDP. Therefore, the UNV programme assistance is covered under the UNDP Standard Basic Assistance Agreement (SBAA) with the governments. UN Volunteers, as part of the UN activities, are covered by the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the UN. In this regard, UN Volunteers are considered as officials on mission and therefore enjoy privileges and immunities as are necessary for the exercise of their functions. Additionally, depending on the agencies to which they are assigned, they may be covered by the arrangements agreed between these agencies and the governments concerned. (1.3 Privileges and Immunities, International UN Volunteer Handbook, Conditions of Service in 2015
 

Functionalities and Sectors of UN Volunteer assignments

 

The major professional functional areas of UN Volunteer assignments either with the framework of specific UN development project designed by various UN agencies or directly assigned to support any given office functions of specific UN agency include technical cooperation with governments, with community-based initiatives, in humanitarian relief and rehabilitation and in support of human rights, electoral and peace- building processes. UN Volunteers listen and discuss; teach and train; encourage and facilitate; share and exchange ideas, skills and experience, in a way to develop capacity of national and local counterparts with whom they interact.

The UNV programme involves a wide spread of sectors(maintaining a roster covering 115 professional categories): Agriculture, health and education feature prominently, as do human rights promotion, governance, electoral assistance, information and communication technology, community development and civil society engagement, vocational training, industry and private sector development, population and social inclusion of marginalized groups including all segments of society such as children, youth, gender, people with disabilities, culture and sports, environmental protection and crisis prevention and disaster risk reduction, peace & conflict resolution, emergency relief and partnerships.

Added values of UN Volunteer assignments

 

Volunteerism (innovation and community mobilization)

  • Encourage and support local volunteer initiatives, preferably in support of the Host Agency’s work programme or otherwise enhancing United Nations relations with the target communities (e.g. Supporting volunteerism, national volunteer programmes and other volunteer initiatives);
  • Facilitate valuable linkages between international or central government personnel and local officials and community groups.
Capacity Development (as an integral part of every assignment, working towards the agreed sustainability focused exit):
  • Community level: Nurture capacities, especially at the community level, by providing specialized technical assistance, enhancing social capital and helping transform people’s lives, and encouraging volunteer initiatives and building on indigenous traditions of volunteering (e.g. Nurturing capacities to participate in community affairs, particularly by youth, women and marginalized groups);
  • Government offices and institutional level: Strengthen the capacity of a local government agency or other institution at the district or community level (e.g. Training government departments, NGOs and CBOs on needs analysis, organizational matters, project preparation, leadership and negotiation with external bodies such as funding agencies);
  • Volunteers themselves: Enable the national UN Volunteer to strengthen his or her own capacities and skills particularly for young volunteers.
Knowledge sharing (creating linkages):
  • Promote knowledge building by using or creating linkages to share information among various factors, including community-based organizations (CBOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local authorities and national governments (e.g. Providing technical expertise and training in various areas, such as health, education, sustainable livelihoods, gender mainstreaming, agricultural extension, micro-credit, management of the environment and rural infrastructure etc.)

The specific purposes of national UN Volunteer assignments:

  • Practice, strengthen and promote volunteerism and encourage national and local volunteer initiatives;
  • Promote social inclusion and empowerment of marginalized communities;
  • Capacity development at the local level: Support transformation processes at the local level, if needed in context specific customized manner, by strengthening the capacities of communities and governments, so communities can effectively participate in development activities and access government services;
  • Promote sustainability and ownership of development and peace building activities at the local level;
  • Enhance the skills, expertise and capacity of the national UN Volunteers themselves.

UN Volunteer Entitlements

 

a) Living Allowances 

Composition of VLA: 

  • International UN Volunteer’s VLA comprises a Monthly Living Allowance (MLA) intended to contribute to safe and adequate accommodation, transportation, and a modest standard of living, as well as Family Allowance (FA) for those with an eligible Primary Family Unit members.
  • National UN Volunteer’s VLA equals MLA only.

Principles of establishment and revision of VLA: VLA is established and paid in US dollars. The process for establishing and revising VLA is managed by UNV HQ and set based on a common and standard yardstick and methodologies for all countries. 

VLA is strictly intended to allow the UN Volunteer to sustain a modest and secure standard of living and is not a salary and is not meant as compensation or reward for the volunteer service. VLA for national UN Volunteer should not be at a level that might attract someone to leave Government or NGO service, as UNV policy is to avoid any draining of national capacities.

(b) Insurance

  • Medical-, Dismemberment- and Life-Insurance by Cigna: Up to three members of the recognized Primary Family Unit (PFU) of an International UN Volunteer regardless of living in the duty station and of a National UN Volunteer living in the country of the duty station are covered by the health insurance plan provided. PFU can be up to three recognized dependents (e.g. 1 spouse and 2 children) and children covered must be under the age of 21 years.

(c) Security: Same as any UN staff

  • All UN Volunteers are subject to the Minimum Operating Security Standards (MOSS): Prior to finalizing a Description of Assignment, the UNV Field Unit will work with the local UN Security Office to ensure that the place of working is adequately safe and secure. UN Volunteers may not be placed in situations that are more hazardous than those in which any other UN official or expert would be placed.
  • All UN Volunteers and their recognized Primary Family Unit (PFU) who reside legally at the duty station, as defined in the Conditions of Service, are covered by the UN Security Management System (UNSMS) and its relevant UN Security Plan for each country of assignment, in the same way that UN staff is covered. In the event that security conditions necessitate relocation or evacuation of UN personnel, UN Volunteer is treated the same as UN staff.
  • In common with other internationally-recruited UN personnel, international UN Volunteers are subject to the Minimum Operating Residential Security Standards (MORSS) which need to be cleared by the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS).
(d) Official travel: Same as any UN staff
  • All UN Volunteers are entitled to receive the same official travel benefits as applicable to UN staff members managed through country-level practices applied by the Host entity. They should not be subject to any discriminatory practices on these issues as compared to staff of the Host entity. This policy will apply irrespective of whether the Host entity is an NGO, government department, UN agency or other entity.
(e) Working hours and leave entitlements: Same as any UN staff
  • Working Hours: UN Volunteers are expected to adhere to the official working hours of the Host entity to which they are assigned, and are entitled to the official holidays observed.
  • Submission of UNV Monthly Leave Reports: UNV Volunteers must submit their monthly leave reports to the UNV FU, clearly indicating any leave taken. The immediate supervisor of the Host entity must certify these reports.
  • Leave Authorization and Leave Request Form (For both Annual Leave and Official Travel): An UN Volunteer’s leave must be authorized by the supervisor of the Host entity. This must be arranged in advance through the UN Volunteer’s direct supervisor and then forwarded to the UNV FU for final approval. Subject to the agreement of the Host entity, and the availability of accrued leave, the UNV FU will grant the leave accordingly.
  • Types of leave:  Common: Annual Leave, Sick Leave - Certified Sick Leave (CSL) and Uncertified Sick Leave (UCSL), Maternity and Paternity Leave, and Special Leave without Pay; Specific to international UN Volunteer: Family Leave and Home Visit (depending on duration of assignment and the nature of the duty station)
(f) Training and learning opportunities
 
  • Training and learning plays an important role in building the confidence and self-esteem of UN Volunteers, engendering a team spirit among UN Volunteers, identifying ways that UN Volunteers can be most effective in supporting transformation, assisting the country to achieve their national development plans, and exploring how to promote volunteerism in the country. Training of national UN Volunteers is fundamentally a significant contribution to national capacity development.
  • Training allowance: Both international and national UN Volunteers are entitled to training and leave allowances and time off (leave). The amounts of the allowances and leave days are regulated according to types of UN Volunteers and duration of their services; Both international and national UN Volunteers have fair and equal access to Host entity training resources to the extent the training relates to the UN Volunteer assignment. 

How to become an UN Volunteer?

 

Online Volunteering

 

UN Online Volunteers are individuals who commit their time and skills over the internet, freely and without financial considerations, for the benefit of society.

The Online Volunteering service offers a database of online volunteering opportunities submitted by development organizations worldwide. Interested individuals identify opportunities that match their interests, expertise and skills, and submit their applications directly to the organizations, which select the volunteers they would like to engage in their activities.

How to apply

 

Everybody who is 18 or older can become a UN Online Volunteer. To register, please follow this link. For additional information please visit the FAQ.

Is your organization looking for Online Volunteers Visit https://onlinevolunteering.org/en/org/index.html

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