UN volunteers

United Nations Volunteers

What is the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme?

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide.

Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges, and it can transform the pace and nature of development. Volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation.

UNV contributes to peace and development by advocating for recognition of volunteers, working with partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming, and mobilizing an increasing number and diversity of volunteers, including experienced UN Volunteers, throughout the world. 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.

Based in Bonn, Germany, UNV is active in around 130 countries every year. UNV, with Field Units in 86 countries, is represented worldwide through the offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and reports to the UNDP Executive Board.


What is UNV’s mission?

Volunteering brings benefits to both society at large and the individual volunteer. It makes important contributions, economically as well as socially. It contributes to a more cohesive society by building trust and reciprocity among citizens.

UNV is the UN organization that supports sustainable human development globally through the promotion of volunteerism, including the mobilization of volunteers. It serves the causes of peace and development by enhancing opportunities for participation by all peoples. It is universal, inclusive and embraces volunteer action in all its diversity. It values free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity, which are the foundations of volunteerism.


Who are UN Volunteers?

Some 7,500 qualified and experienced women and men of nearly 160 nationalities serving each year in developing countries as UN Volunteers. UN Volunteers have worked in about 130 countries. According to the Annual Report 2009, nearly 80 per cent are citizens of developing countries while the remaining 20 per cent come from the industrialized world.


How to become a volunteer

UNV is inspired by the conviction that volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges worldwide.  Everyone can contribute their time, skills and knowledge through volunteer action, and their combined efforts can be a significant force for achieving peace and development.

There are three ways to volunteer with UNV:

a)      International UN Volunteer

UNV recruits a great diversity of talents and offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. Every year, about 7,500 qualified and experienced women and men of around 160 nationalities serve as UN Volunteers in some 130 countries. They are professionals who play key roles contributing to peace and making an impact on development results.  

Please be aware that many UN Volunteers work in remote, isolated duty stations where basic comforts are limited. There may be no electricity or running water, there may be no recreation facilities to speak of and work may continue seven days a week.

Though UNV assignments can be very rewarding, applicants thus need to be prepared to be deployed to difficult places and they need to be able to adjust to fast-changing living and working circumstances. The minimum age for UN volunteers is 25. There is no upper age limit.

If you are ready to register to become an international volunteer, please go to the registration form. Please do not register more than once. If you are already registered in the UNV database and wish to update your information, we invite you to visit “MyProfile” .

For further queries, please also visit the FAQ page

b)      National UN Volunteer 

National UN Volunteers are volunteers mobilized by UNV on the request of a programme country to support peace and development programmes in that country.

They are citizens of the country. But non-nationals can also serve as national UN Volunteers if they reside legally in the host country, are recognized as stateless or refugees, and if such service is in compliance with national law of the host country.

National UN Volunteers are assigned to a Host Agency which is a UN organization or entity that requested the service of the national UN Volunteer.

Compared with other UN personnel, national UN Volunteers add value with their knowledge of local languages, cultural, social and economic conditions, and their capacity to work at the local level. National UN Volunteers are particularly well-placed to nurture capacities at the community level, foster ownership and sustainability, and contribute to achieving the the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The minimum age of a national UN Volunteer has been set at 22 years of age, and UNV will accept well-qualified and suitable older candidates to serve as national UN Volunteers up to an age covered by the life insurance carrier.

In Pakistan, such opportunities will be posted on the following website: http://jobs.un.org.pk/

c)       Online volunteering

The UNV Online Volunteering service is a platform that puts volunteers into contact with organizations around the world. It connects development organizations and volunteers over the Internet and supports their effective online collaboration.

The UNV Online Volunteering service gives development organizations access to a broader pool of knowledge and resources to enhance their capacities, while it offers individuals worldwide additional opportunities to volunteer for development and contribute to the achievement of the MDGs.

If you are interested in volunteering online, your first stop should be UNV's Online Volunteering service. Please note that online volunteers are not UN Volunteers.


How to engage volunteers

If you represent an NGO, a government or a UN agency and you are interested in involving volunteers in your programmes, here is how to recruit volunteers for your organizations.

Firstly, it depends on whether you wish to engage either online volunteers or on-site volunteers:

The UNV Online Volunteering service connects organizations working for sustainable human development with volunteers. Organizations collaborate with online volunteers over the Internet to strengthen the impact of their development work.  Thousands of volunteers are ready to provide their support: professionals, students, retirees and expatriates from across the globe volunteer their skills online to help organizations address development challenges.  Visit the Resources section of the Online Volunteering service website for more information about online volunteering and submit your organization’s application to involve online volunteers.

Organizations requiring the services of on-site UN Volunteers should address their request directly to the UNDP Office of the country where they are operating. For more information please visit “Hosting a UN Volunteer”.