United Nations Volunteers

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organisation that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges, and it can transform the pace and nature of development. 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.

UNV contributes to peace and development by advocating for recognition of volunteers, working with partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming, and mobilising an increasing number and diversity of volunteers, including experienced UNV volunteers, throughout the world.

UNV and Volunteerism in China

UNV began its operations in China in 1981 in support of the UN system. Under the administration of UNDP, it has been contributing to development results through volunteerism. As of today over 250 international and national UN Volunteers have served in United Nations programmes in China, and nearly 200 Chinese volunteers have supported poverty alleviation, micro finance, environmental protection, cultural heritage protection, HIV and AIDS prevention, migration and NGO development in over 35 countries as international UN Volunteers.

Volunteerism is embedded in traditional Chinese culture. With a strong emphasis on family and community, traditional Chinese culture has a far-reaching influence on volunteers. Ancient Chinese philosophers from the time of Mencius in the 4th century BC advocated ideas of “benevolence”, “neighbourhood” and “social ideals”. There is a direct link between these and the concepts of modern volunteerism. After the founding of the PRC in 1949, the ideas of “serving the people” and “learning from Lei Feng and doing good deeds” were precursors to the idea of modern volunteerism. With government support volunteerism is steadily growing and The 2008 Beijing Olympics were a proud recognition of the spirit of public service in China, mobilising more than 1.7 million volunteers to ensure the games ran smoothly.

Moving into the second decade of the 21st century, China faces new opportunities for greater social and economic development. As volunteerism continues to grow in popularity and efficacy, UNV will continue to play what it hopes will be an ever-increasing role in China’s development.

International Volunteers

International UNV volunteers serve in countries other than their own. They are recruited for specialised inputs to development programmes, and increasingly, in the areas of peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and UN-supported electoral processes. The UNV programme maintains a roster of candidates with relevant experience in these sectors. It covers more than 100 professional categories including, for example, programme/project development, administration, communications, community development, demobilisation and reintegration, disaster prevention, humanitarian and civil affairs, engineering, environment, HIV/AIDS, medicine, human rights, logistics and election support. For more information please visit: http://www.unv.org/how-to-volunteer

Online Volunteers

UNV’s Online Volunteering service connects development organizations and volunteers over the Internet and supports their effective online collaboration. It gives development organizations access to a broader pool of knowledge and resources to enhance their capacities, while it offers individuals worldwide additional opportunities to volunteer for development and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. If you are interested in volunteering online, your first stop should be UNV's Online Volunteering service at http://www.onlinevolunteering.org

The Online Volunteering service has enabled more than 1,000 non-profit development organisations (including CSOs, government institutions, academic institutions and United Nations agencies) to benefit from the support of more than 12,000 individuals from 182 countries (60% women, 40% from developing countries in 2007) who:

  • Provide technical expertise (e.g. advice on waste disposal, contract drafting)
  • Support project and resources management (e.g. project planning, volunteer management)
  • Contribute to knowledge management (e.g. data collection, database development)
  • Facilitate communication and networking (e.g. newsletters production and translation, moderation of online discussion groups)

Currently UNDP China is collaborating with around 10 online volunteers to enhance its development work in China.

Being a UNV

What is provided to a UNV volunteer?

  • Settling-in-Grant calculated on the duration of assignment which is paid at the beginning of the assignment;
  • Volunteer Living Allowance (VLA) intended to cover basic living expenses, which is paid each month;
  • Travel on appointment and at the end of assignment, if different than home location;
  • Life, health and permanent disability insurance;
  • Annual leave;
  • Resettlement allowance calculated based on the duration of assignment which is paid upon satisfactory completion of the assignment.


  • A university degree or higher technical diplomas;
  • Several years of relevant working experience;
  • At least age 25 (no maximum age limit);
  • Good working knowledge in at least one of the three working UN languages: English, French and Spanish;
  • Strong commitment to values and principles of volunteerism;
  • Ability to work in a multi-cultural environment;
  • Ability to adjust in difficult living conditions;
  • Strong interpersonal and organisational skills;
  • Prior volunteering and/or working experience in a developing country is an asset.
Contact UNDP in China

Phone: +8610 85320800
Email: registry.cn@undp.org
Fax: +8610 85320900

No.2 LiangMaHe NanLu