Remarks by H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the

United Nations General Assembly

2 December 2021



Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to join you today in celebrating the 50th

Anniversary of the UN Volunteers, and to recognize the 20th Anniversary

of the International Year of Volunteerism.

I am pleased to co-organize this event with Brazil, Japan, and the

UN Volunteers, under the themes, Volunteerism for building equal and

inclusive societies.

This theme succinctly captures the soul of volunteerism and conveys

the power of volunteerism as a mechanism for social inclusion.

At its core, volunteerism promotes solidarity, social cohesion, and


It empowers both the provider and the host. It is underpinned by

compassion and cooperation.

As the work of UNV and other organizations has demonstrated,

volunteerism strengthens sustainable development, and offers a

wealth of opportunities for the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

As stated in the 2021 World Volunteerism Report, “Volunteerism, in

its various forms, has often been positioned as a universal asset

which can help shape, localize and achieve development goals.”

Ladies and gentlemen,

Everywhere, and every day, young people are acting on issues

that affect them, including the climate crisis, conflicts, disasters,

gender inequalities, governance failures, or lack of quality education,

health, and decent jobs for youth.

Youth volunteers are often involved in bringing together different

components of social action, combining direct action and service

provision with online and in-person advocacy and representation to

solve challenges.

Volunteers build the resilience of communities and help to develop a

sense of ownership of development interventions.

I’m pleased to say that one of my Senior Advisers in the OPGA

Communications Team was a former UN Volunteer.

I am even more pleased to say that through my Presidency of Hope,

volunteerism will be recognized for the core value that it is, one that

contributes to progress against the five Rays of Hope that we have


My Dear Friends,

The General Assembly, in its resolution 73/140, encouraged the

meaningful inclusion of all people through volunteering, including youth,

older persons, women, migrants, refugees, persons with disabilities and

all marginalized groups.

Expanding opportunities for all types of people to participate in

development processes also requires addressing the risks that

volunteers face, particularly those

concerning the security and well-being of volunteers.

Going forward, I would encourage Member States to promote a

life-cycle approach to volunteering that can mobilize everyone,

everywhere, to meet the ambitions of the decade of action.

Member States should place added emphasis on grassroots and

informally organized volunteer groups who are often at the frontline

of community responses.

Leadership opportunities for women and marginalized groups can

be scaled up to support national gender equality priorities through


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Resolution 75/233 recognizes volunteerism as a powerful and

cross-cutting means of implementing the Agenda 2030.

UN Volunteers remains the appropriate United Nations entity to

mobilize volunteers in support of the United Nations development

system, including to promote South-South cooperation and to leave

no one behind.

I would call upon all United Nations country teams to deepen their

engagement with volunteers as essential partners in realizing the SDGs

and reflect the distinct contributions of volunteering in Sustainable

Development Cooperation Frameworks and country programmes

documents of United Nations entities.

To conclude, let us celebrate the success and efforts of volunteers.

Let us empower them to do more. And let us fully utilize this valuable

resource for our common well-being

I thank you.



Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN

General Assembly Meeting Commemorating the 50th 

Anniversary of the UN Volunteers Program  


Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you to Japan and Brazil for

organizing this important event.  


Those who step up to be volunteers – those who commit to service for the greater good of the world – deserve our utmost respect. Today, we mark the 50th 

anniversary of the founding of the United Nations Volunteers program.

This year, the United States is

also celebrating the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Peace Corps and USAID.  


I mention these anniversaries because I believe the three programs

have a great deal in common. All three send young people

beyond their countries of origin; they place people in new places,

so that they may contribute to our shared


provide all kinds of support, and foster friendships across cultures.

One of the young people on the video you showed said,

“it’s a chance to truly help those in need.”

And all three of these programs do just that;

they are all about building bridges.  


So, it’s no surprise that the UNV and the Peace Corps have

had a close relationship over the decades.

Every year, in fact, two dozen volunteers are 

co-sponsored by both organizations.

Through the formalized relationship, Americans bring

their technical skills across the globe,

gain valuable experience working with and for the UN, while

experiencing and learning from the people and places they serve.  


I have seen for myself the value of the UN Volunteer Program.  

When I was the US Ambassador to Liberia,

UN Volunteers served in UNMIL.

They navigated challenging conditions; courageously

pursued disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of over

100,000 combatants.

They helped support the historic elections, which led to Africa’s

first elected female president.

They even delivered medical assistance during the Ebola outbreak.

The UN Volunteers represent the best of our multilateral work.

They are committed to building our common future.

They should make all of us at the UN proud.  


At its core, diplomacy is about forming bonds.

When we laugh with each other, we eat with each other, and

we enjoy each other’s company – even if we don’t share a common

language or culture –

we make the world a more peaceful place;

we realize we are more alike than we are different, and we

see how so many of our values are shared.

The UNV Program epitomizes that kind of diplomacy, and the

United States is so grateful to those who step up and volunteer

toward building a more peaceful,

more prosperous world. I take this opportunity to thank all volunteers –

former and current.  


Thank you, Mr. President.