The United Nations, commonly referred to as the UN, is the world’s largest international organization whose aim is to maintain peace, security, friendly relations, harmony, and cooperation between nations of the world. It is an intergovernmental organization that is headquartered in New York City, with several offices around the world including Nairobi, Vienna, Geneva, and The Hague.
Becoming a UN volunteer is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to contribute to the development of your own country and world peace. If you have an interest in accomplishing something worthwhile for humanity and making a positive impact on your homeland, then consider becoming a UN volunteer, and partner with volunteers from around the world doing work that truly matters.
In this article, I will highlight all you need to know to become a UN volunteer, so if you’re interested in becoming one then read on.
What's in this guide?
What do UN volunteers do?
Whether you are volunteering at the international or national level, you are an invaluable asset in accomplishing the mission of the UN. UN volunteers have many roles, and these roles aid in the betterment of society. If you are volunteering in your home country, with your knowledge of local languages, cultures and problems, you can better usher in significant changes that will better the community.
Some of the activities and roles UN volunteers may perform include:
- Discouraging discrimination and promoting social inclusion and empowerment of ostracized individuals and communities.
- Strengthening and empowering the members of local communities so they can participate in the development of their community
- Improving access of the community and its members to government services
- Encouraging volunteer initiatives
- Encouraging peacebuilding activities
How to become a UN volunteer?
1. Understand the mission of the UN
Your interest in volunteering with the UN should stem from the desire to help the UN achieve its goals, so you must thoroughly understand the organization and their mission.
The UN performs several activities towards improving the lives of individuals and promoting world peace. If it is something you would like to get involved in, then you should volunteer.
2. Assess your skills and interests
Search within yourself and identify the skills you possess that can help you touch the lives of others and be an asset to the UN. It should be something you are genuinely interested in so you give your all when volunteering.
For instance, if you have good teaching skills, you can benefit the community by teaching children who may not have access to education.
Everyone has special skills that can benefit others, and you do too. You just have to identify it and learn how to put it to good use.
3. Understand and meet the requirements of the UN
The UN has strict requirements that its volunteers must meet which tends to vary depending on the assignment. Without meeting these requirements, you will not be eligible to volunteer.
You typically do not need academic or professional qualifications to volunteer in the UN, meaning that anyone becomes a UN volunteer as long as you are over 18, and meet the requirements for your assignment. However, some assignments may require academic or professional qualifications.
There are many different assignments that you can volunteer for, so do not fret if one of them does not match your credentials, as there will be many others which will. Make sure to keep an open mind and explore several available options.
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4. Register with the UN’s Global Talent Pool
There is a United Volunteering Platform where assignments are advertised and you can pick from a large collection. To apply for assignments, you must first register with the UN’s Global Talent Pool.
Registering with the UN’s Global Talent Pool takes about 45 minutes, and you can do so by visiting app.unv.org, where several assignments will be listed. You can only view but cannot apply for any of the assignments until you have created your account. There is a “login or sign up”, which will redirect you to where you can open your account.
After filling out the required information and inputting the verification code sent to your email in the required field, you would have successfully created your account. Finish setting up your account by completing the task on your dashboard that requires you to complete your profile by entering the full information about your skills, educational qualifications and experience. You can update your profile anytime you want by logging into your account.
It is important to provide accurate and detailed information on your profile, as it is the only source of information used to match you with assignments. Keep in mind that you must access your profile at least once a year to keep it active, if not, it will be deactivated.
5. Apply for assignments
After creating your account, you can then apply for assignments that you qualify for. When applying, you will be asked to complete a short application form. Ensure that you tailor your application to the volunteer assignment and ensure that your skills match what they are looking for.
Note that you are not allowed to submit your CV either in your application or by mail. However, you can copy and paste if you want to, but it is not recommended. You should always tailor each application to a specific volunteer assignment.
6. Wait to be shortlisted
After applications to assignments have been sent, each application will be reviewed and the list of shortlisted candidates will be shared with the host entity.
Your UNV profile will also be shared with the host, and if your profile is not completed at this point, you will be alerted to fill out the mandatory fields that are missing.
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7. Participate in the selection process
If you are shortlisted for an assignment, you may be invited for an interview which may be online (usually) or offline. In this interview, your skills will be assessed and you will be asked some interview questions.
Prepare yourself adequately for this interview by doing research and readying yourself for any questions they may ask. Be prepared to back up the information you supplied in your application.
8. Prepare for deployment
If you are selected for the assignment, then congratulations! The next step is to start preparing for your deployment.
The UN will provide information on logistics, travel, and other preparations, so ensure that you follow all their instructions and prepare all necessary documents, including visas and work permits, depending on the location.
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Becoming a UN volunteer is an experience that will transform your view of the world and award you the chance to make the world a better place with your own hands. You might think it may be hard or even impossible to get a chance to volunteer for the UN, but as I’ve highlighted in this article, it is not so. As long as you follow the steps in this article, getting a chance to volunteer for the UN will be much easier.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long do volunteer assignments usually last?
The duration of each assignment varies, ranging from a few weeks to several months. It all depends on the goals and requirements of the assignments.
Can I volunteer remotely?
With the UNV Online Volunteering platform, you can volunteer remotely, making assignments accessible worldwide.
Will I be paid?
UN volunteers will receive an allowance to help sustain a basic lifestyle which is dependent upon the national UN volunteer category and the living costs of the location you are stationed at. An Entry Lump Sum will be given once at the commencement of your assignment to meet initial expenses. You will also receive funds to support your travel if you need to take up the role in a new station.
Where will I perform my volunteering duties?
Depending on the assignment you choose, you might end up being stationed in big cities, rural areas or remote villages.
When was the UN founded?
The UN began its operations in 1945 after the devastation of World War, to prevent future wars, and only had 51 member states at the time. As of 2023, the UN has 193 member states which constitute almost all of the sovereign states in the world.
Why should I volunteer?
There are several benefits to volunteering but the most important is the satisfaction of seeing your actions contribute to world peace and the development of communities. The work you do may become the reason why so many people are living better lives. Volunteering at the UN will also help you gain valuable experience and develop your skills.