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The Two Way Street Of Good Governance and International Volunteering.

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Ben and Lenore 1

Pictured: Report authors Lenore Matthew and Benjamin Lough with a copy of the report.

The United Nations Volunteer (UNV) Programme and the International Forum For Volunteering in Development (Forum) today launched the results of a joint research paper on how international volunteers and International Volunteer Cooperation Organisations (IVCOs) strengthen governance structures.

The research documents how international volunteering contributes to the legitimisation of public institutions by promoting transparency, information, access and participation.

The research process comprised of case examples drawn from published studies, grey literature from IVCO evaluation reports and online sources. A short survey was circulated to members of the International Forum for Volunteering in Development and fourteen interviews with IVCO staff members and returned volunteers also took place.

Benjamin Lough, of the School of Social Work in the University of Illinois said:

“As case examples in the report illustrate, international volunteers add value to governance-strengthening initiatives not easily achieved through other forms of development cooperation. International volunteers fill a critical bridging role that links development actors across sectors. Writing this report, I’ve learned much about the contributions of international development volunteerism to good governance. I look forward to sharing these insights at IVCO, the annual conference on international volunteering, 2014 in Lima, Peru. ”

IVCOs also try to combat collusion and corruption by modelling and maintaining good governance practices within their organisations. Volunteer participation in governance is a two-way street, and is far easier to navigate when governments are supportive and stable.

Lenore Matthew, one of the research authors explained:

“From working alongside community members to operating within national institutions, international volunteers are affecting good governance in a variety of ways. What is central to international volunteers’ contribution across all levels of action is the importance of relationship building. I look forward to the release of this report and discussions which it may prompt.”

Cliff Allum, Chairperson of the International Forum for Volunteering in Development Research Working Group added:

“This research represents the successful collaboration between UNV and the International Forum for Volunteering in Development arising from participation on the Forum Research Working Group and demonstrates the excellent outcomes in terms of robust, timely and relevant research that can emerge from this type of collaboration. I look forward to future collaborations from members of the Group and welcome this paper.”

Examples found that volunteers’ efforts to strengthen governance from below and above is a critical combination—escalating citizen engagement and collective action as well as building capacity and structural changes in higher governance institutions.

Amanda Mukwashi, Chief of Volunteer Knowledge and Innovation at United Nations Volunteers in welcoming the research said: “The report provides timely information for the research UNV is doing for the State of the World’s Volunteerism Report on the theme of Volunteerism and Governance due for release in 2015. It also provides more evidence for why volunteering for development must be taken seriously in the post 2015 context”.


Read or download a copy here.


Launch Of Research Paper.

This research paper will be presented at IVCO, the annual conference on international volunteering, at 2.00-3.00pm on Tuesday 21st October, 2014 in Lima, Peru by Benjamin Lough. The conference will gather heads of volunteer organisations and delegates from public, private, academic and non-governmental sectors across the world to discuss key contemporary issues in international volunteering and development, and share best practices.


Benjamin Lough earned his BS in Sociology in 2000 and his MSW in 2003 from Brigham Young University, and his PhD in 2010 from the George W. Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Lough has extensive international research experience, having recently served as a resident consultant to the United Nations in Germany, an independent consultant to the Department of Human and Social Services of American Samoa, program evaluator for Mayan Tree in Guatemala, and program evaluator for the Foundation for International and Community Assistance in Armenia and the Republic of Georgia. In addition to considerable research and teaching experience, Dr. Lough also worked as a clinical social worker.

Lenore Matthew’s practice and research focus is on international social work, community development, and program evaluation. Lenore is particularly interested in inclusive economic growth in the Global South, and how economic development programs and policies affect the underprivileged. Since 2011, Lenore has been the Social Work Project Manager of the Guatemala Clean Water Initiative, a collaboration between the UIUC Department of Civil Engineering and the Wuqu’ Kawoq Maya Health Alliance, which works to bring potable water to Maya communities in Guatemala in culturally competent ways. Lenore worked for several years with non-government organisations in Argentina and Peru, and has conducted research in Brazil, Argentina, and Guatemala. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

Cliff Allum has worked in international volunteering as CEO of Skillshare International for more than 10 years. Cliff’s background is in academia and adult education, although prior to joining Skillshare he worked in training and community development in the UK’s voluntary, trade union and statutory sectors. From 1998 until October 2004, Cliff was Chair of BOND, the UK international NGO network. Cliff is currently Chair of the International Forum for Volunteering in Development Research Working Group.

Amanda Mukwashi is UNV Chief, Volunteer Knowledge and Innovation at United Nations Volunteers. She joined the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) programme in December of 2012 where she currently works as Chief, of the Volunteer Knowledge and Innovation Section (VKIS). She holds a first degree in law from the University of Zambia and a postgraduate master’s degree in International Economic Law from the University of Warwick, UK.


Pictured: Amanda Mukwashi, Chief of Volunteer Knowledge and Innovation at UNV with Dimity Fifer, CEO Australian Volunteers International at the UNV Partnerships Forum, 2014, Bonn, Germany.


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