The Legal Framework for Volunteerism

Ten Years After International Year of Volunteers 2001

Global Trends in NGO Law, Volume 2, Issue 1 (December 2010)

Since 2001, the year designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Volunteers (IYV), governments around the world have come to recognize volunteerism as one of the primary drivers of political, economic, and social development. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated in 2008, “achieving the Millennium Development Goals will require the engagement of countless millions of people through volunteer action.”

In anticipation of the ten year anniversary of IYV, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) commissioned a global report by the International Center for Not-for -Profit Law (ICNL) and the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL), Laws and Policies Affecting Volunteerism Since 2001. The report finds that since IYV 2001, over 70 laws and policies on volunteers and volunteering have been adopted in countries around the world. With support from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), bilateral aid programs and multilateral agencies many governments have gone further and moved from acknowledgment of the importance of volunteerism to adoption of laws and policies designed to support and promote volunteerism in their countries.

Building on this report, this issue of Global Trends examines the major international trends and lessons
learned in the development of supportive volunteerism policies and legislation over the past decade.