Volunteers are very important in every society! This is particularly evident in crisis situations. In 2020, we have been in crisis mode almost continuously, and the work done by volunteers has proven invaluable in efforts to overcome many of the challenges we faced. Today we celebrate International Volunteers Day, and volunteers want us to know that together we can respond to all the challenges and support our communities and the society.
International Volunteer Day was mandated by the United Nations Assembly on December 5, 1985. This day is an opportunity to promote volunteering and encourage competent institutions to support the work of volunteers and recognize their contribution to achieving sustainable development goals at all levels in the country.
The Institute for Youth Development KULT, in partnership with United Nations Volunteers and with the support of the European Union, celebrated International Volunteer Day by organizing a panel discussion to galvanize a dialogue on opportunities provided by laws on volunteering, the implementation of these laws in practice, and obstacles to fully implementing all legal mechanisms and supporting volunteers in BiH.
All the participants concluded that more effort needs to be put in implementing laws on volunteering and noted that cross-sectoral cooperation has to be improved. Competent entity ministries, and the relevant department in Brčko District of BiH have to be more open to working with CSOs, and organizations also need to show more interest in engaging in institutional dialogue. Participants of the panel discussion emphasized that abusing the Law and taking advantage of volunteers has to stop because volunteering is intended to inspire positivity and contribute to the development of communities and society. Everyone agreed that volunteers are not all young people and that older volunteers are sometimes unfairly neglected, although their experience, knowledge and skills are a major contribution not only to the society but also to promoting volunteering.
Volunteerism is one of the most vital delivery mechanisms for social, environmental and economic transformation, ensuring a lasting impact with its ability to change people’s mindsets, attitudes and behaviors. Promoting personal and corporate volunteering will contribute to peace and development by advocating for the recognition of volunteers and integrating volunteerism into development programming”, said Mr. Gianluca Vannini, Head of Operations Section for Social Development, Civil Society and Cross Border Cooperation of the Delegation of the EU to BiH.
The Institute for Youth Development KULT worked on developing and advocating for the adoption of the Law on Volunteering of FBiH, which was adopted in 2012. The Institute has ever since been working on implementing and promoting the Law among government institutions, other organizations and young volunteers. Over the past decade, the Institute has provided more than 3 million BAM for youth initiatives based on volunteer work. Volunteers contributed to all of the Institute’s achievements over the past 18 years, and the Institute wants volunteers to know that their work is very important and that together we really can face all the challenges thrown in our way. Another strong source of support in this context is the European Union, which is funding a project called “Improving Human Rights in the Business Sector” focusing on corporate volunteering. We wish a happy International Volunteer Day to all volunteers and we hope that next year we will be celebrating this day with a large-scale voluntary activity.