The United Nations is an international organization of countries established in 1945 as a successor to the League of Nations. Its purpose: to promote international peace, security, and cooperation. Because it includes politically powerful delegates from 193 member states and has political power vested in its founding charter, the UN can take wide-ranging action on a variety of issues. Regardless of your political leanings, it’s difficult to criticize the overarching mission of the UN. Their relief agencies “provide aid and protection to over 36 million refugees and others fleeing war, famine or persecution.” The United Nations and its specialized agencies, funds, and programs make the world a safer, more just place to live. The UN works on projects related to conflict resolution, human rights, counter terrorism, disaster relief, refugee protection, sustainable development, disarmament and non-proliferation, the protection of children, gender equality, clearing landmines, economic and social development, and expanding food production. If our world is ever going to be peaceful, it’s organizations like the UN that will make it happen.
As a volunteer, there are many opportunities to work on UN projects. They have a constant need for new volunteers. In order to become a volunteer you must fill out an application via their website. The process can be rather lengthy and not everyone who applies will find a placement. Still, the UN deploys 8,000 volunteers annually. That’s a lot of opportunity! If you have a particular skill set, you may find a placement more easily. The UN also works with many other organizations that have ongoing UN-approved sustainable development projects. Their online portal matches interested volunteers with current openings. So, if you don’t find placement directly with the UN, you can still find a position in line with their goals.
Becoming a UN volunteer is an excellent decision for people who are interested in pursuing a career in international relations or politics. The UN’s opportunities give volunteers first-hand experience working on deeply important political projects in the developing world. Often projects are rich in history—they’ve been ongoing for many years and are a direct response to political or social unrest. Volunteers learn about the complex history of the region in which they work and learn how a governmental body can effectively intervene when people are suffering. There are several ongoing youth projects too. After your volunteer experience you can join the global network of UN volunteers to build relationships with serious, concerned citizens worldwide.