The United Nations mobilizes about 8,000 volunteers to give aid in almost 130 countries. While the peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations is an important aspect of the organization, its volunteers provide integral support to those in need, improving their lives in a permanent way. In order to become one of these life changing volunteers, a few steps need to be taken.

1. Read the conditions of service

The UN offers volunteer positions in two areas: development assistance and humanitarian and peacekeeping operations. No matter which area a person prefers, there are specific criteria that volunteers need to meet. The minimum age requirement to be a volunteer is 25 years old. Volunteers also need to be familiar with at least one of the three official UN languages (English, Spanish, and French) and should have relevant experience with the area in which they want to volunteer.

2. Create a UN Volunteers account

Creating an account allows potential volunteers to view and apply for open positions. There are short term assignments that last about three months, but generally volunteers work under a six month to one year contract. The UN expects a volunteer to work for at least one year, and if the volunteer would like the assignment can last longer.

3. Go on Assignment

Get ready to positively impact the lives of others. The UN does caution that volunteers could be placed in “remote, isolated duty stations where basic comforts are limited.” The website also informs potential volunteers that access to running water and electricity may be limited.

While the environment in which volunteers work may be nowhere near that of a developed country. the rewards of volunteering and the impact that volunteers make will should serve as a welcome alternative to first-world living. The United Nations accepts applications year-round, so take a look at their website and see if volunteering is right for you.

– Alessandra Wike

Sources: UN Volunteers1, UN Volunteers2
Photo: Heritage Action