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Follow-up to the resolution adopted by the IPU Council at its 168th session (Havana, 7 April 2001) on
"Support to the United Nations International Year for Volunteers: 2001"

Report endorsed by the Council at its 170th session
(Marrakech, 23 March 2002)

  1. The United Nations declared 2001 the International Year of Volunteers. Within that framework, and on the initiative of the Swiss Parliament, the IPU Council adopted a resolution in Havana, on 7 April 2001, on "Support to the United Nations International Year for Volunteers: 2001".

  2. The IPU resolution (a) stated that voluntary action is deeply embedded in every society and contributes significantly to promoting social cohesion, poverty reduction, sustainable development, democracy and good governance; (b) urged Parliaments to hold consultations with organizations concerned with voluntary action in their countries, including through parliamentary hearings, to help define policies that might be adopted to encourage volunteering and to establish a supportive legislative framework; (c) invited Parliaments to support the United Nations Volunteers work. It further requested the IPU Secretary General to collect from National Parliaments data on action taken at the national level to give effect to it and on existing legislation in this field, and to report to the Council by its first session in 2002.

  3. In a letter sent to all Member Parliaments in May 2001, the IPU Secretary General suggested several measures to follow up on the resolution, and invited Parliaments to report back on any action taken.

  4. The Secretary General would like to extend his thanks to the Parliaments of Belarus, Germany, Tunisia and the United Kingdom for sending detailed information on initiatives taken in their countries to support the International Year for Volunteers. Their answers were relayed to the United Nations Volunteers and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

  5. Although not enough answers were received to detect any general trend, a few initiatives should be mentioned:

    • The presentation to the German Parliament of legislation on the promotion of volunteerism.
    • The initiative of the Belarus Parliament requesting the Council of Ministers to jointly hold consultations with major volunteer organisations in Belarus with a view to drafting action platforms to enhance the volunteer movement and to shape an effective legal framework for the purpose.
    • The debates in the Parliaments of Germany and Belarus on the promotion of volunteerism.
    • The carrying out of a series of activities celebrating the International Year of Volunteers in the Belarus, Tunisia and the United Kingdom based on the promotion of humanitarian assistance and solidarity. These included initiatives in the educational field and the civil protection and social field.

  6. In consultation with the UNV and the IFRC, the Secretary General recommends that Parliaments that have not yet done so send all relevant information on action taken to support volunteerism, particularly through legislation. The collected data will serve as a contribution to the report which will be presented on 5 December 2002 to the United Nations General Assembly, on follow-up to the International Year of Volunteers.

  7. Bearing in mind the "cross-sectoral" nature of volunteerism and the need to raise awareness on this issue, as stated in the IPU Council resolution adopted in Havana, the Secretary General furthermore recommends that the IPU lend its support to the organisation of side events organised by the United Nations Volunteers and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies during world or regional conferences. The first of these initiatives is due to take place on 11 April 2002, during the World Conference on Ageing in Madrid, and consists of the organisation of a panel on "Older people as volunteers".

  8. Finally, the Members of the IPU Council will note that the resolution adopted by the IPU Conference in Marrakech on "Ten years after Rio: Global degradation of the environment and parliamentary support for the Kyoto Protocol" reaffirms the Resolution on volunteers adopted by the IPU in Havana and recognizes the important role that volunteerism plays in sustainable development. The Council may therefore wish to recommend that the IPU lend its support to the organization of a similar event as described in paragraph 7, to be organized during the World Conference on Sustainable Development in August 2002, in South Africa.

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