#Article (Archive)

UN Secretary-General Speaks on International Volunteer Day

Dec 11, 2008, 5:28 AM

The following is a transcript of comments made by the Secretary General of the United Nations on the occasion of International Volunteer Day.

"This International Volunteer Day, December 5th, comes near the end of a difficult year marked by rising food and fuel prices, accelerating climate change and turmoil in world financial markets.

There have been many calls for resources to combat these problems. Rarely, however, is volunteerism recognised as a potentially vast and powerful resource to engage people in the pursuit of peace and development.

Volunteers can work on farms under a hot sun or contribute by email on the Internet. The cultural form and definition of a volunteer may change depending on circumstances, but the underlying principle never wavers: every individual can make a difference in society.

Beyond helping to promote the greater good, volunteers enrich their own lives. As one young volunteer recently put it, "I love being a volunteer because I feel I am useful to society, and I get satisfaction by helping others."

Although we cannot quantify this altruistic spirit in the way we measure other resources for development, we know that it is immense and renewable.

On this International Volunteer Day, I urge all members of our global community to tap this great reserve of energy and initiative.