Contribution of volunteers hailed at UN event

Contribution of volunteers hailed at UN event

Volunteers make a significant contribution to advancing the ideals of the United Nations and without them the world body's work would be much more difficult, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

"[Volunteers] help us carry out our work in sometimes difficult and dangerous conditions," Mr. Annan said in a message at a UN General Assembly event marking the official close of the International Year of Volunteers. "They fight poverty and marginalization. They bring assistance to those in need and help us protect the global environment."

"In these troubled times, volunteers are a shining example of the brave and caring face of our humanity," Mr. Annan said.

For her part, the head of the UN Volunteers (UNV) programme told the audience that through volunteer efforts this past year, numerous national governments, the Council of Europe, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations have passed resolutions and enacted legislation that will support volunteering at national and international levels in the years ahead.

"Now is our chance to assess our best volunteer practices and pull together our studies of national volunteerism, our best arguments for better conditions for volunteers, our proposals for pro-volunteer legislation and our strategic vision for a global volunteer network," Executive Coordinator Sharon Capeling-Alakija said. "This will position us to be effective in encouraging governments and the UN system to take further steps in support of volunteers as time goes on."

Meanwhile, the Acting President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa, called for a renewed commitment to supporting the volunteer movement "because it is people's desire to help one another which makes for the harmonious and peaceful co-existence which is at the heart of the ideals of the United Nations to which we all aspire."

After the Assembly event, Mr. Annan accepted a gift from Canada of a sculpture designed by Anthony Testa of the Royal Canadian Mint that is dedicated to the spirit of volunteerism.