2009-06-10 | News
UNV Program Support Network Establishment among Volunteers Involving Organizations in Armenia

The United Nations Volunteers Program (UNV) organized and hosted a roundtable discussion with local volunteer based organizations at the UN House.  The topic of discussion has been volunteerism in Armenia and the establishment of a network of VIOs to improve inter-agency coordination and avoid wasteful duplication of efforts.

Participant organizations, nationally known for the number of volunteers involved and the impact of their contribution to development, were Aquatics Armenia, Armenian Caritas, Armenian Red Cross Society, Armenian United Nations Association (AUNA), Civil Society Institute (CSI), Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF), Republican Headquarters of Student Brigades (HUJ), Mission Armenia, Professionals for Civil Society (PFSC), Armenian Association for the Disabled, PYUNIC, United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) and the US Peace Corps.

“The purpose of these roundtable discussions is to not only introduce NGOs to each other, but to also share information, ideas, coordinate action, and organize general support at national level” said Sara Sangoi, UNV Program Officer.

The importance of volunteers and their contribution to development has been underlined through one training on volunteers’ management offered to all participants in collaboration with the Armenian Red Cross.  From this point on, discussion on topics of common interest started, such as the importance of volunteers for service delivery and NGO’s advocacy, and the resources that should and need to be planned for supporting volunteers. 
Concerns arisen on lack of legislation on volunteerism in Armenia, which make it difficult for NGOs to understand exactly how to protect and deal with volunteers.

Armenian collaboration with Azerbaijan and Georgia was also a key topic of discussion.  Though there is slow progress in communication between the governments of the three countries, specifically between Armenia and Azerbaijan, alliances between NGOs from these countries have demonstrating being successfully, and suggested to be promoted. 

The network of NGOs decided to meet once a month to discuss various topics of concern, e.g. the launching of a National Survey on Volunteerism undertaken in collaboration with UNDP/UNV Bratislava.  Each meeting will be held at the offices of another of the participant NGOs. Suggestion has been given to encourage cooperation with NGOs in the regions.

“This is a start to not only improving and expanding on the network of NGOs, but also to continue the dialogue on volunteerism and the importance of it in Armenia” stated Sangoi.

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program is the UN organization that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. Created in 1971 by the UN General Assembly (resolution 2659 (XXV)) with the mandate to facilitate the integration of volunteers in development within the framework of Technical Cooperation for Development, UNV is now based in Bonn, Germany, and administered by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

UNV is present in Armenia since August 2008 upon UNDP request, at UNDP premises. UNV renders its services at the UN Country Team level, advising on volunteerism and UNV’s distinctive contributions to development.

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