1972-80: New Contacts between East and West, North and South

We did just that, arguing that volunteer service should not be… a complement, a cheap addition to “proper” technical assistance, but a constructive criticism of the weaknesses in “Aid” in the Third World.

Glyn Roberts

In the 70s CCIVS’ members’ projects included new emphasis on health, education, ecology awareness and natural disaster prevention but CCIVS’ most important role at this time was still to keep open the channels of youth exchange between east and west in the cold war. The expansion of government-supported “development volunteering” continued but CCIVS’ role in this became less significant.

It was in 1971 that the CCIVS participated in the creation of the United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV), which consecrated the role of International Volunteering at the National and International levels. Several years later, the CCIVS would celebrate the newly instituted “Voluntary Work Day”.

United Nations Volunteers

The growth of bilateral “development aid” volunteer programmes funded by the governments of industrialised countries in the 1960s led to much discussion about creating something similar, but international. This was the First United Nations Development Decade. CCIVS took part in these discussions, arguing always that whatever might be created under UN auspices should be truly a volunteer programme, rather than “junior experts”. A UN General Assembly resolution of December 1970 set up UNV in as from 1971 on the basis that it should be universal in terms of countries of origin and destination; that volunteers should be recruited for their skills; and that need at the receiving end should determine the choice of assignments. When UNV began most of the volunteers came from industrialised countries but very soon this changed, with recruitment from all over the world. Today the largest numbers are placed in Africa (and over 60% of those are in fact Africans working away from home). CCIVS has remained in good relations with UNV and has participated in the annual International Volunteer Day on 5 December and in the International Year of Volunteers (IYV) in 2001 as well as in the preparation of the IYV +10. However, CCIVS has seen the programme move away from real volunteering. It is an excellent thing that a qualified African or Asian can work in another developing country but he or she usually earns more than they could in their home country. So perhaps the word “Volunteer” should be replaced?

European Regional Seminar in Hungary, March 1987

MIOT, the Hungarian Youth Volunteer Organization and SIW (Netherlands) hosted this important European Regional Seminar to discuss the role of voluntary service organizations working for peace, methods of peace work and cooperation in Europe, especially East-West.

“All organizations agreed that they had a big role to play in raising educational consciousness of young people to understand foreign cultures and traditions and thus contribute to reducing prejudice and mistrust and break down enemy images.”

It was at this seminar that the tradition began of an annual “post-workcamp event” hosted by one or other member of the Alliance of European Voluntary Service Organizations.

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