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The United Nations Volunteers programme

Assignments with the United Nations Volunteers programme in around 130 countries are coordinated in Bonn.

Schafgans/dgph - Jennifer Stapper
Schafgans/dgph - Jennifer Stapper © Schafgans/dgph - Jennifer Stapper

Sustainable development and peace work are the main focus of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme with its headquarters in Bonn – an interview with Jennifer Stapper, UNV Communications Chief.


What do the volunteers do with the United Nations?

At the moment, for instance, some of our volunteers are working with the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR in countries bordering on Syria. They are supporting people who were forced to leave their home country and are now registered as refugees. The volunteers organise schools and women’s groups in the refugee camps. Other volunteers are in Haiti where they are helping to set up schools or to plan recycling processes and energy supplies.


Who are the mainly honorary volunteers?

The United Nations Volunteers programme has around 6,500 volunteers in 10 peace missions and development projects around the globe. We always ensure that there are both national and international volunteers involved in a project. More than 60 per cent of the international volunteers come from developing countries. They have special skills and experience and can share their knowledge with each other.


Are there more women or men involved in the UNV assignments?

We always have approximately the same number of men and women in the assignments. We – and all other UN organisations – consider it very important to include all sections of society. That’s why gender equality is one of our main priorities.


How can people become volunteers?

If a colleague in one of the UN organisations sees that he needs more support, he lets us know, for instance: I need a volunteer for a water supply project in Afghanistan. He has to know about water management and be able to speak Dari. We advertise the position, and people who are interested can apply via our website . The selection process is very competitive and we choose the candidate in accordance with the needs of our organisation. As soon as the person has been chosen for a particular task, we then prepare the volunteers for their assignments in intensive courses.