Basic Law on Sharing constricts volunteer activities

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Basic Law on Sharing constricts volunteer activities

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has made an announcement of a legislation called the Basic Law on Sharing. In the press release, the ministry claimed that it would converge the opinions of the citizens. The new Basic Law on Sharing uses a unified term “sharing” for donation, volunteering and organ donations. The ministry said that donation is “material sharing,” volunteering is “manpower sharing” and organ donation is “life sharing.” But it takes considerable research and social consensus to use the term “sharing” in the legal provision as its definition is ambiguous.

The Basic Law on Sharing seems to consider volunteering as a part of the social welfare activities. However, volunteer works refer to general social activities, including not just the welfare activities but also environmental conservation and local community development. The limited definition of volunteering as a welfare activity may discourage overall volunteering culture in Korea. Also, we need to reconsider making a systematic frame for sharing, which should be a part of culture and lifestyle. When the Basic Law on Volunteer Activities is into effect, it’d hard to understand why volunteering should be included under the narrow-minded Basic Law on Sharing.

With a decade-long joint endeavor of the government and the civilian groups, the Basic Law on Volunteer Activities was enacted in 2005.

Volunteering is a duty and right of a democratic citizen and a standard to measure the level of citizenship.

Dec. 5 is the International Volunteer Day designated by the United Nations. Korea has also designated the day as Volunteer Day and the week as Volunteer Week. But the Basic Law on Sharing also designate the same day and week as Sharing Day and Sharing Week.

The central and local governments already celebrate the volunteering works of the year and encourage volunteers with ceremonies and events. Designation of the Sharing Day is redundant and goes against the global trend.

by Kim Sun-taek, Former chairman of the Korean Federation of Volunteer Centers
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