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Volunteerism central to peace, development: Ban

Kabul, December 4, 2007 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The challenges facing the world today are vast and complex, ranging from resolving conflicts and building peace to alleviating poverty and reaching the other Millennium Development Goals.

The UN secretary-general said this Tuesday in his message on the eve of International Volunteer Day. Tackling these challenges required all of us to work together -- Governments, international organisations, the private sector and civil society in its broadest sense.

Volunteers played an indispensable role in such efforts, Ban Ki-moon acknowledged, pointing out the remarkable contribution of voluntary action around the world was not sufficiently recognised.

He observed volunteerism was a feature of all cultures and societies - a fundamental source of community strength, resilience, solidarity and social cohesion. It could help effect positive social change by fostering inclusive societies that respected diversity, equality and the participation of all, he added.

Ban continued such contributions were central to the three pillars of the United Nations work promoting peace and security, advancing development, and protecting human rights and human dignity.

That was why every UN agency draws on the spirit of volunteerism, including through the United Nations Volunteers programme, to expand the reach of its activities, he maintained.

Ban affirmed voluntary action was also essential in the global effort to address climate change, posing a serious threat to our ability to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Today, the worlds governments are meeting in Bali, Indonesia, at the landmark UN Climate Change Conference.

The UN chief explained voluntary action was also critical to build domestic solutions for sustainable economic growth, and to develop capacities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

On this International Volunteer Day, let us recognise the power of volunteerism to promote peace and development around the world. Let us also pay tribute to the many millions of citizens all over the world who, every day -- in ways small and large -- volunteer their time, ingenuity, solidarity and creativity to help build a better, more sustainable future.