International Volunteers Day

03 Dec 2008

Presentation by Mahmood Ayub, Istanbul

Chairman of Intel and UN Task Force for ICT Mr. Craig Barrett
Representatives of UN Volunteers Organization
Representatives of the Turkish Education Volunteers Foundation
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me start by saying how deeply honored I am to be invited to address you here on a subject that is so dear to my heart.

The International Volunteers Day that we are celebrating today offers a wonderful opportunity for volunteering organizations and individual organizations to showcase their contributions to the society.

Ever since the UN General Assembly established the International Volunteers Day in 1985, volunteers have been making a difference in this globalized world of ours.

I do not need to tell you about the virtues of volunteerism. You not only know them; you actually practice them. You are wonderful human beings who make sacrifices  to  bring a better life and a better future for your less fortunate brothers and sisters.You do this in often risky, difficult and remote areas, with limited communication.You seem to be undisturbed by these problems and are driven  by the  positive changes that you are able to bring about in this troubled world of ours.

Everywhere we look, we see your extraordinary contributions: from responding to disasters, to advocating for action on climate  change,to maintaining or trying to bring about peace, to engaging and supporting youth and marginalized groups, and to fighting for women's rights and empowerment.

In my own work, I see on a daily basis the importance  of volunteerism as a stimulant and a catalyst for global socio-economic  development. I see it as a powerful mechanism for promoting empowerment  and social inclusion. It can have an important impact on influencing the pace and nature of human development. Volunteerism-when adequately supported and promoted-can serve as a highly effective channel for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, to which all the countries of the  world committed themselves eight years ago.

I  am  delighted  to  see  that  many  countries  have  established  and  refined policies and legal frameworks to encourage volunteerism and to harness the contribution of volunteers toward specific development objectives.This is a welcome trend, which facilitates participation, by encouraging  and  inspiring people to volunteer for development,particularly in their own communities.It is also helping to build the capacity of individuals and institutions that support development in civil society, in the public and private sector,and in the UN system.

That is why we have plans in 2009 to work with the Government of Turkey to develop the legislative framework for volunteerism with the support of the UN Volunteers Organization.

Turkey is fortunate to have important facets of volunteerism deeply ingrained in its culture and traditions. Its people  are well-educated, capable, hardworking, caring to the needy and the handicapped, creative and charming. Indeed  the  volunteerism and  the civil  society  movement  in Turkey  is often seen as a model for other countries in the region.

Let me end by saluting those thousands of volunteers in Turkey who are taking action to make a difference in their communities, and to contribute to build a better world for everyone. It is a chance for us to recognize their efforts. And it is a chance to provide our full support to them.