Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN General Assembly Meeting Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the UN Volunteers Program

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 2, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you to Japan and Brazil for organizing this important event.

Those who step up to be volunteers – those who commit to service for the greater good of the world – deserve our utmost respect. Today, we mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations Volunteers program. This year, the United States is also celebrating the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Peace Corps and USAID.

I mention these anniversaries because I believe the three programs have a great deal in common. All three send young people beyond their countries of origin; they place people in new places, so that they may contribute to our shared goals, provide all kinds of support, and foster friendships across cultures. One of the young people on the video you showed said, “it’s a chance to truly help those in need.” And all three of these programs do just that; they are all about building bridges.

So, it’s no surprise that the UNV and the Peace Corps have had a close relationship over the decades. Every year, in fact, two dozen volunteers are co-sponsored by both organizations. Through the formalized relationship, Americans bring their technical skills across the globe, gain valuable experience working with and for the UN, while experiencing and learning from the people and places they serve.

I have seen for myself the value of the UN Volunteer Program. When I was the US Ambassador to Liberia, UN Volunteers served in UNMIL. They navigated challenging conditions; courageously pursued disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of over 100,000 combatants. They helped support the historic elections, which led to Africa’s first elected female president. They even delivered medical assistance during the Ebola outbreak. The UN Volunteers represent the best of our multilateral work. They are committed to building our common future. They should make all of us at the UN proud.

At its core, diplomacy is about forming bonds. When we laugh with each other, we eat with each other, and we enjoy each other’s company – even if we don’t share a common language or culture – we make the world a more peaceful place; we realize we are more alike than we are different, and we see how so many of our values are shared. The UNV Program epitomizes that kind of diplomacy, and the United States is so grateful to those who step up and volunteer toward building a more peaceful, more prosperous world. I take this opportunity to thank all volunteers – former and current.

Thank you, Mr. President.