18 November 2001
An international gathering of experts on volunteering wrapped up its November meeting in Geneva with a message to the United Nations General Assembly on support for efforts to encourage volunteer action at the close of the UN International Year of Volunteers 2001 (IYV). The International Symposium on Volunteering (www.isv2001.org), which brought together some 400 government officials and volunteer leaders from 98 countries, evaluated the activities of IYV and set the stage for follow-up actions.
National Committee representatives discussed plans to continue their work into next year through research into national volunteering and by transforming the committees into national centers to train and support volunteers. Pre-Symposium workshop sessions were held on youth, older persons and volunteer web sites. Workshops were held on the year's objectives of volunteer recognition, promotion, facilitation and networking. Dignitaries highlighted several issues which came to light during IYV, including the importance of the Internet in facilitating IYV, the prevalence of women in worldwide volunteering and the idea of "Volunteer Capital."
Delegates wrapped up the Symposium by drafting a common statement, including suggestions for follow-up after IYV 2001. Dr. Nafis Sadik, IYV Eminent Person and former Executive Director of the UN Population Fund, presented this document and her personal reflections from the Symposium to the UN General Assembly on Dec. 5. The symposium was organized by the International Symposium Association, International Conference Volunteers and UN Volunteers (UNV). It has received substantial financial support from the Swiss Government, the Republic and Canton of Geneva, the City of Geneva, the Japanese Government and UNV. UNV is the volunteer arm of the UN system. It extends hands-on assistance for peace and development in nearly 150 countries. Created by the UN General Assembly in 1970 and administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNV works through UNDP country offices to send volunteers two thirds of them from developing countries and promote the ideals of volunteerism around the world. www.unvolunteers.org