Involvement in this priority area concerns UNV’s longstanding support to UN peacekeeping missions led by DPKO, and UN peace building missions, including Special Political Missions and Peace Building Support Offices, led by DPA. For most programmatic and operational issues pertaining to UN missions, UNV’s direct counterpart is the Department of Field Support (DFS).
The guiding principles for UNV’s collaboration are cemented in a landmark global Memorandum of Understanding signed between the parties in 2003, and highlight the complementary nature of both the skills and “esprit de corps” which UN Volunteers bring to the missions. The guiding principles also call for a reasonable balance of support to both the substantive and technical support needs of the missions. In substantive areas such as civil affairs, human rights, gender, and child protection, for example, the added value of volunteers are recognized as contributing to social cohesion, community confidence, local capacity-building and a “light footprint” approach12 to peacekeeping and peace building. In technical and administrative support areas, such as engineering, air operations, and logistics, the added value is seen through both the direct provision of line support functions, as well as through elements of the wide range of skills transfer, mentoring, training, and capacity building of the national co-workers who typically work side by side with the volunteers.
In 2010, and in response to GA Resolution 60/266, UNV and DFS launched a strategic partnership evaluation initiative aimed at further identifying the comparative advantages of volunteerism and UN Volunteers within the context of UN missions. Recommendations of the evaluation, expected mid-year 2011, will serve to guide UNV’s future collaboration in UN missions in a much more programmatic and strategic manner. The evaluation is particularly relevant given the very significant evolution and growth in UNV-UN mission collaboration, which in recent years and together with UNDP, rank as UNV’s top two UN partner organizations.
In the area of peace building, the landmark 2009 “Secretary-General’s Report on Peacebuilding in the Immediate Aftermath of Conflict” (A/63/747-S/2009/304), encouraged UNV to continue to support special political and peace building initiatives of DPA and the PBSO. In this area, UNV will continue to play a key role in DPA led post-conflict electoral exercises through the mobilization of substantive and technical UNV expertise, and will also partner with DPA / PBSO field operations especially in areas where community-based conflict prevention, reconciliation and dialogue can be facilitated by national and international volunteers. UNV’s partnership in these areas was reaffirmed in a subsequent landmark report,” UN Review of International Civilian Capacities” (A/65/747-S/2011/85), which DPA/PBSO commissioned to improve the international response to countries emerging from conflict, by strengthening the availability, deployability, and appropriateness of civilian capacities for peacebuilding. The Review recommended “… more effective use of volunteers, particularly United Nations Volunteers: The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme was frequently identified to the Senior Advisory Group as a diverse and field-tested source of capacity. United Nations leaders in the field should make greater use of UNV.
In sectors with identified capacity gaps we encourage UNV to develop specialized rosters. Other volunteer mechanisms, such as community-based voluntary action, regional and sub-regional volunteer rosters, also offer potentially useful capacity”.