Volunteers against Conflict
UNITED NATIONS VOLUNTEERS
This volume is the result of collaboration between United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the Humanitarianism and War Project of the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, Brown University, USA. It is the expression of the substantial involvement of UNV in UN peace-keeping and humanitarian operations. Its purpose is to convey a better understanding of the work of UN volunteers in conflict situations.
This book, the first of its kind, brings together the experiences of individual UN volunteer specialists who served in a wide range of recent UN missions. This “ground’s-eye view” of some of the most ambitious and important UN initiatives is a collection of firsthand accounts written by the volunteers themselves. Thomas G. Weiss and Larry Minear, co-directors of the Humanitarianism and War Project, place the experience conveyed by the chapters in their broader historical and institutional context and offer some reflections on the UNV experience for the international community as a whole.
Beginning with a brief history of events leading up to the genesis and development of the UN mission, each chapter describes the UN volunteer’s involvement, along with the personal experiences of volunteers who lived and worked in Cambodia, South Africa, Mozambique, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Somalia. The chapters bear witness to the vitality of volunteerism and include volunteers’ own assessments of their participation and the lessons they learned.
UNV is the sole volunteer-sending agency in the UN family. Twenty-five years old, the organization has traditionally fielded UN volunteer specialists in the cause of development. In response to the needs of the United Nations, UN volunteers have also been fielded around the globe since the early 1990s in UN peace-keeping and humanitarian missions to build democracy, demobilize ex-combatants, assist refugees, and protect human rights. The special part played by UN volunteers in such missions has been widely recognized and consistently praised by UN officials such as Aldo Ajello, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, United Nations Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ), who said:
“If I would run another mission, I would ask immediately for volunteers. UNV electoral officers were the only real presence we had in terms of monitoring, which was essential in order to give the trust and confidence that is necessary to accept the results of the elections. I would recommend to the Secretary-General himself to use as much as possible the organization and its people because they have proven to be extremely professional. UNVs have been one of the essential elements for the success of the operation.”
The United Nations University is an organ of the United Nations established by the General Assembly in 1972 to be an international community of scholars engaged in research, advanced training, and the dissemination of knowledge related to the pressing global problems of human survival, development, and welfare. Its activities focus mainly on peace and conflict resolution, development in a changing world, and science and technology in relation to human welfare. The University operates through a worldwide network of research and postgraduate training centres, with its planning and coordinating headquarters in Tokyo.
The United Nations University Press, the publishing division of the UNU, publishes scholarly books and periodicals in the social sciences, humanities, and pure and applied natural sciences related to the University's research.
In collaboration with the Humanitarianism and War Project of the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, Brown University
© The United Nations University, 1996
The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors alone. They should not be considered as official positions of the United Nations, the United Nations Volunteers Programme, or the United Nations University.
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