United Nations Volunteers

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The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program was established in 1971 by the United Nations General Assembly and is administered by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Currently, there are over 3,000 UN Volunteers from around the world serving in developing countries.

Of this corps of volunteers in the field, there are approximately 50 United States citizens serving in primarily two-year assignments. The United States will send up to 24 U.S. citizens per year to serve as UNVs. The majority of UNVs serve in Africa (42%), with the remaining serving in the Asia Pacific region (25%), Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltics (15%), the Americas and the Caribbean (12%), and the Arab States (6%).

Who is the average UN Volunteer?

Volunteers are, on the average, in their early 40s, with an advanced degree, 15-20 years of experience in their field, and substantial work experience in developing countries.

UNV recruits volunteers with specialized, technical skills, in the fields including, but not limited to: business/finance; organizational management; civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering; water and sanitation management; forestry and natural resource management; information technology, and agricultural and health-related fields. Unfortunately, teachers and individuals with generalist backgrounds are seldom accepted into the program.

UNV does not offer short-term overseas work camp, internship, or residency opportunities.

What are the qualifications of a UN Volunteer?

Applicants to UNV must possess a university degree or technical diploma and preferably have five years of full-time work experience in their field of expertise (defined as the subject area in which the applicant has his/her highest degree and a demonstrated, related work background). This full-time experience must have been completed subsequent to graduation. Applicants whose work experience and education are not compatible and individuals desiring to make a career change into fields in which they do not have the required years of experience will not be considered for the program. Furthermore, it is highly recommended that applicants have prior overseas work experience when applying to the program. Statistics reveal that more than 90 percent of the volunteers fielded have worked overseas in development related projects.

Applicants must be fluent in at least one of the U.N. working languages (English, French, or Spanish) and will be considered for UNV projects only if they are fluent in the language of the post. Post languages include English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese.

Applicants must be at least 25 years of age; there is no upper age limit. All applicants must clear a medical screening process following identification for post. UNV will cover up to three accompanying dependents to the volunteer's country of assignment.

What does the UN Volunteers application process for American citizens entail?

The application includes a Peace Corps application and a UNV Personal History Statement. Peace Corps conducts an initial applicant screening, including an interview, reference check, and legal clearance. Providing the application receives favorable consideration from Peace Corps, Peace Corps will agree to co-sponsor the candidate should s/he be selected for assignment. At that point, the UNV application is forwarded to UNV Headquarters for processing and placement on a UNV roster of qualified and available candidates. The UNV roster is quite extensive, including candidates from over 140 countries. The length of time spent on the roster varies depending on marketability of the candidate's skill, the number of candidates already on the roster in the same field, and the competitiveness of the candidate in his/her field. Unfortunately, although UNV would like to place all applicants, there are no guarantees of placement.

How do you apply to the United Nations Volunteer Program?

If you fit the qualifications, are a U.S. citizen, and have a competitive background, and are interested in 12-24 month assignments, please research the UNV Web site and send a resume and cover letter to:

Peace Corps/United Nations Volunteers
1111 20th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20526
Fax: 202.692.2251

If you fit the qualifications and are not a U.S. citizen please visit the UNV Web site for further information on how to apply.

United Nations Volunteers/UNDP
1775 K Street NW
Washington DC 20006

Are short-term assignments available?

UNV does place volunteers in shorter term assignments (usually 6-9 months). The majority of these assignments are filled by the UNV Special Operations office, which recruits volunteers for disaster relief efforts and electoral assistance. Candidates with a minimum of two years of full-time work experience in fields related to human relief, disaster assistance, or electoral assistance can apply directly through the UNV Web site. For further information on opportunities with Special Operations, or to apply(*), visit the UNV Web site.

United Nations Volunteers (att: HRU)
Postfach 260111
D-53153, Bonn
Fax: 49 228 815 2001

(*)Inquiries for this program must go to the Special Operations office in Germany. As the volume of applicants is quite high, replies will only be sent to applicants with experience in fields related to current or prospective Special Operations projects. Please note that Special Operations expects all applicants to be immediately available for deployment.

External Links

United Nations Volunteers Official US Peace Corps Website