Culture catcher: 17

Extract from the Universal Declaration on Volunteering: 

At the dawn of the new millennium, volunteering is an essential element of all societies. It turns into practical, effective action, the declaration of the United Nations, that we, the people have the power to change the world. 

This Declaration supports the right of every woman, man and child to associate freely and to volunteer regardless of their cultural and ethnic origin, religion, age, gender and physical, social and economic position. All people in the world should have the right to freely offer their time, talent and energy to others and to their communities through individual and collective action, without expectation of financial reward. 

We seek the development of volunteering that: 

  • elicits the involvement of the entire community in identifying and addressing its problems; 
  • provides a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves; 
  • enables others to participate as volunteers; 
  • complements but does not substitute for, responsible action by other sectors and the efforts of paid workers; 
  • enables people too acquire new knowledge and skills and to fully develop their personal potential, self reliance and creativity; 
  • promotes family, community, national and global solidarity. 

We believe that volunteers and the organisations and communities that they serve have a shared responsibility to: 

  • create environments in which volunteers have meaningful work that helps to achieve agreed upon results; 
  • define the criteria for volunteer participation, including the conditions under which the organization and the volunteer may end their commitment, and develop policies to guide volunteer activity; 
  • provide appropriate protections against risks for volunteers and those they serve; 
  • provide volunteers with appropriate training, regular evaluation and recognition; 
  • ensure access for all by removing physical, economic, social and cultural barriers to their participation. 

Taking into account basic human rights as expressed in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, the principals of volunteering and the responsibilities of volunteers and their organisations in which they are involved, we call on:

All volunteers to proclaim their belief in volunteer action as a creative and mediating force that: 

  • builds healthy, sustainable communities that respect the dignity of all people; 
  • empowers people to exercise their rights as human beings and thus to improve their lives
  • helps solve social, cultural, economic and environmental problems; and 
  • build a more humane and just society through worldwide cooperation.

Adopted by the international board of directors of IAVE, The International Association for Volunteer Effort at its 16th World Volunteer Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, January 2001, the International Year of Volunteers.

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