Title

United Nations Volunteer Program in Kosovo: UN-Professional?

Publication Date

2001

Abstract

To support the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the United Nations Volunteers Program (UNV) has deployed over seven hundred Volunteers to the Yugoslav province over the past two years, making it the largest program in UNV’s history. As a Volunteer myself from November 1999 to October 2000, I witnessed a number of aspects of the Kosovo UNV Program which I felt were detrimental to my morale and that of my colleagues. Other UNVs I spoke with at the time also expressed significant frustration with aspects of the program, leading me to investigate further as the basis of my Capstone requirement for a Master’s Degree at the School for International Training.

I developed an online questionnaire as the research instrument, which inquired about work satisfaction, related variables such as pay and training, and demographic information. Intending to gauge what I assumed to be a low level of UNV work satisfaction, I was surprised to learn that over eighty percent of UNVs in Kosovo report some level of satisfaction in their work (ranging from somewhat to extremely satisfied). However, the responses also revealed that despite this satisfaction, the UNV Program has been seriously negligent in its responsibility to adequately train and support its Kosovo Volunteers. On average, more than two-thirds of UNVs responding did not receive introductory training in areas called for within the UNV Program’s own guidelines. Additionally, nearly one-third of respondents reported experiencing discrimination within the UN Mission in Kosovo, based primarily on their status as Volunteers.

This paper hopes to highlight these circumstances for the long-term benefit of the UNV Program, and expects that the Headquarters in Bonn, Germany will seriously consider a program overhaul to address this documented mismanagement and discrimination.

Disciplines

Human Resources Management | Organizational Behavior and Theory

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