The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme

On the International Volunteer Day, over 200 youth cleared rubbish and planted trees in east Kabul’s Ahmad Shah Baba Maina district. Photo: UNDP / S. Omer Sadaat

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the volunteer arm of the United Nations that was created by the UN General Assembly in 1970 to serve as an operational partner in development cooperation at the request of UN member states. It is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and works through its Country Offices around the world. 

The UNV programme supports sustainable human development globally through the promotion of volunteerism, including the mobilization of volunteers. It serves the causes of peace and development through enhancing opportunities for participation by all peoples. Universal and inclusive, UNV embraces all types of volunteer action while holding to the values of free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity, which are the foundations of volunteerism. Volunteerism brings benefits to both society at large and the individual volunteer. It contributes to more cohesive societies by building trust and reciprocity among citizens.

The programme is inspired by the conviction that volunteerism can transform the pace and nature of development and by the idea that everyone can contribute their time and energy towards peace and development. In conjunction with partners, UNV advocates for global recognition of volunteers and their contribution through volunteerism. This includes the integration of volunteerism into peace and development planning frameworks at global, regional and national levels, and the mobilization of an increasing number of volunteers from different backgrounds, including qualified and experienced UN Volunteers.

The enormous potential of volunteerism is an inspiration to UNV and to volunteers around the world. The UNV programme directly mobilizes more than 7,700 UN Volunteers every year nationally and internationally.  Eighty percent come from developing countries and more than 30 percent volunteer in their own countries.

On the International Volunteer Day, over 200 youth cleared rubbish and planted trees in east Kabul’s Ahmad Shah Baba Maina district. Photo: UNDP / S. Omer Sadaat

The UNV Programme in Afghanistan

The UNV programme in Afghanistan started in the early 1990s and has had its operations and programmmes within UNDP Afghanistan which was located in Islamabad, Pakistan. In 2004, the office was moved to Kabul so as to effectively address the humanitarian, peace and reconstruction needs of Afghanistan within the framework of UN agencies, funds and programmmes. 

Later in 2004, the National UNV modality was started to support mainly UNDP programmes and projects in a number of areas including food security, the capacity building of communities and the integration of the disabled and marginalized. Throughout this period, the goal has been to mobilise and recruit as many volunteers as possible to support the diverse country needs especially towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals and other national development objectives. From 2003 there was a huge expansion in number of UNVs in the country with the establishment of UNAMA to support peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts. In Afghanistan, UN Volunteers play a major role in the peace, reconstruction and development both at national and community level. UNVs working in development programmes in Afghanistan currently support the work of UN agencies such as WPF, UNHCR, UNOPS as well as UNDP. Over the years, the UNV programme has supported the implementation of United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks which are aligned to the Government of Afghanistan’s national development priorities. Currently, all UN volunteers in the country are foreigners. Efforts are being made to revive the national volunteer scheme which ended in 2010 after six years of operation.

How to Volunteer

The UNV programme is interested in volunteers in various professional fields and encourages all those interested in volunteering to register with the country office.

  • Prospective candidates who meet the minimum requirements that include;
  • Be at least 25 years old,
  • Possess a first degree from a recognized university,  
  • Two years of consistent and relevant working experience since university qualification,
  • Be of a good character and have good interpersonal skills, and
  • Have a good knowledge of computer technology.

Eligible persons should send an updated curriculum vitae (CV), in either MS Word or PDF to They should include in the subject of the email the acronym UNV and indicate at least two areas of competence or interest for review and inclusion in the database. 

For possible consideration in international UNV assignments, interested persons should register in the UNV Roster through and click "How to Volunteer" and follow the instructions therein.

It should be noted that UNV assignments are demand-driven and available positions are very competitive, therefore acceptance or inclusion of one's CV in the database or profile in the UNV Roster DOES NOT guarantee that one would be taken up.
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UN Volunteers are provided with a Volunteer Living Allowance (VLA) intended to cover basic needs, housing and utilities; a one-time Settling-in Grant equivalent to one month VLA paid to UN Volunteers going to serve in areas different from the place of recruitment; life, health and permanent disability insurance, and a resettlement allowance paid at the end of satisfactory service.