1960-71: Cold War, Independance and the Growth of Long Term “Development” Volunteer

Creative chaos, best describes the state of our office during the early 1960s when Arthur Gillette and I were running things. We had a constant coming and going of volunteer helpers and visitors, a dozen projects on the go at any one time, the duplicator spewing out tens of thousands of workcamps lists.

Glyn Roberts

…The early 1960s was, and we were extraordinarily lucky more or less to realize it even then, a time of shifts in the world configuration of socio-economic power unprecedented since the end of World War II. (…)It was exhilarating to be in Paris at the CCIVS Secretariat, a unique focal point for observing all these confusing changes and, we thought with a mite of arrogance, influencing them…

Arthur Gillette

Reconstruction and de-colonisation were among the priorities but these years were marked by a strengthening cooperation between CoCo member organisations in the field of joint projects and programmes. In 1964 an Index on long-term voluntary action was created, including a volume on workcamp organizations.

In May 1965 the official name of “CoCo” became the “Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS)” as it remains to this day.

This was the decade when volunteering as development assistance was a main area of growth. The fact that it co-incided with the new independence of many formerly colonised countries in Asia and Africa raised the suspicion that this could be a new, subtle form of colonialism. President J.F.Kennedy’s launch of the US Peace Corps in 1961 encouraged the growth of similar schemes based in Europe (DED in Germany, MS in Denmark, VSO in the UK, SNV in the Netherlands). Some CCIVS members joined in this trend (MS, IVS/SCI in the UK) and CCIVS tried to remain the coordinator of these new developments but over the years the government- led nature of these programmes led them further and further from what most CCIVS members felt were the ideals of volunteering. The two streams began to separate. At this time discussions were beginning about the possibility of a United Nations volunteer programme. CCIVS was involved in these discussions but in the end UNV emerged outside of CCIVS.