UNV in Myanmar

participants of International Volunteer Day 2015 in Yangon. Photo: UNVparticipants of International Volunteer Day 2015 in Yangon. Photo: UNV

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. At the heart of UNV’s work is the commitment to increase the integration and recognition of the catalytic role volunteerism plays to engage people from all walks of life in national and international development efforts and peace. Volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation.


The UNV Programme was established by the United Nations General Assembly (GA) in December 1970 through resolution 2659 (XXV). In 1976, the General Assembly broadened our mandate to promote the advancement of the role of youth in development and it was further expanded in 2011 as UN’s focal point to raise awareness of volunteerism and provide technical cooperation to developing countries to fully exploit the potential of volunteerism as a resource for achieving the MDGs, first, and to advance the post-2015 agenda later on. The year 2014 was a watershed for the Programme worldwide with the launch of its Strategic Framework and the implementation of a new way of doing businesses.


The Programme has been active in Myanmar since 1991 but the Myanmar Field Unit wasn’t established until December 2013. Now working under the auspices of the UNV Strategic Framework 2014-2017, the recently established Field Unit’s approach is three-pronged:


Mobilizing high-skilled volunteers to support the work of UN Agencies and partners. Since 1991, almost 100 International UN Volunteers have been dispatched to the country under UNDP, WFP, UNHCR, UNFPA, etc. whereas 400+ Myanmar citizens have served as International UN Volunteers abroad, mostly in Africa. Leveraging the diverse range of available UNV modalities, Myanmar benefits of the deployment of international, national, youth and online volunteers.


Integrating youth and volunteerism across policy, legislation and programming. In accordance with the UNV programme priorities, the MMR Field Unit’s work is focused in Youth, Peacebuilding and DRR activities, collaboratively with other UN Agencies. A joint UNV/UNDP/UNICEF project has been approved in 2015 (USD 138.000) to pilot the establishment of a Youth Volunteer Network for Disaster Risk Reduction under the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. Additionally, UNV is an active member of the Task Force for the establishment of a comprehensive and inclusive Youth Policy in Myanmar. We maintain a good working relationship with Youth and University Networks all across the country.


Advocating for volunteerism and civic engagement in peace and development. UNV promotes networking among volunteer-involving organizations and youth groups in order to better integrate youth and volunteerism through public advocacy and awareness raising, capacity building and facilitating communication and interaction. As a core activity, we organized International Volunteer Day on 5th December and actively contribute to the International Youth Day celebrations on 12th August every year.


Do you know that:

  • Myanmar is a top priority country for the UNV Programme. Amongst the UNV Programme Focus, we prioritize Youth, DRR/CCA and Peacebuilding.
  • Volunteerism is one of the most basic expressions of solidarity and societal cohesion, often arising out of long-established traditions of sharing and reciprocal exchanges. The Myanmar traditional form of volunteerism is known as “Ah-myar ah-kyo-saung, ko-ah-kyo-aung", which if directly translated into English, means "benefiting oneself in serving for the benefits of others".
  • Myanmar ranked 1st in the Sharing World Giving Index 2014 Report as the country that donates the most to charity and the 2nd in terms of volunteering time worldwide.
  • There are 8 International Volunteer Involving Organizations (VIO) operating in Myanmar, with a combined portfolio of 250+ international volunteers serving in Myanmar (2015).