The phenomenon of volunteering may appear in different shapes and manners depending on the cultural and traditional backgrounds of countries albeit it rests on the shared conception of goodness without seeking self-interest and remuneration. The individuals' unconstrained and uncompulsory consent and desire to be good and beneficial for the society they live in and for the humanity of which they are part can be motivated from diverse origins. Besides, in our age the phenomenon of volunteering means more than practices of personal feelings of altruism. It signifies an organised, focused and well-planned agglomerate of independent personal strivings for the good of society and humanity, particularly of worst offs. The traditional notion of volunteering in Turkey rests on the deep-seated moral principle of selflessness coming down from the culture of foundation (vaqif) with its historical and cultural background. Foundations and associations inspired by the traditional roots of volunteering principles, as being the most prominent volunteering organisations in Turkey, increase in number and strengthen their institutional capacities in a favorable social-economic environment provided by economic and social improvements made in last decade. In addition, awareness about the significance of well-organised and specialized volunteering activities among Turkish people has been reinforced with the life-saving activities of the volunteers after the Marmara Earthquake in 17 August 1999. Also “Associations Law” (Dernekler Kanunu) adopted in 2004 and “Foundations Law” (Vakıflar Kanunu) put into force in 2008 have been the noteworthy developments on the organisational-structural level contributing to the participation in volunteering activities with a more sound legal ground for volunteering activities.
Although Turkey lacks a legislative-legal basis for defining the volunteering and laying out the framework for non-governmental organisations’ status concerning volunteer management, policies and targets in the field of volunteering are stated in several legal documents in a scattered manner. Policy heading entitled “Volunteering and Mobility” in the National Youth and Sports Policy Document is viewed to be a central document setting out the principles and procedures for the organisation of volunteering activities, this policy field purports to ensure a sustainable cooperation and coordination among the relevant institutions and organisations.
There is not an independent law on volunteering or youth volunteering in Turkey but there are some laws including the term “volunteering”: Special Provincial Administration Law (İl Özel İdaresi Kanunu), Municipal Law (Belediye Kanunu), Environmental Law (Çevre Kanunu), Police Organisation Law (Emniyet Teşkilatı Kanunu), Law on Disabled People (Engelliler Hakkında Kanun), Law on Mobilisation for National Forestation and Erosion Control (Milli Ağaçlandırma ve Erozyon Kontrolü Seferberlik Kanunu), Basic Law on Health Services (Sağlık Hizmetleri Temel Kanunu), Civil Defence Law (Sivil Savunma Kanunu), Law on Social Services (Sosyal Hizmetler Kanunu), Law on Probation Services (Denetimli Serbestlik Hizmetleri Kanunu), National Education Basic Law (Milli Eğitim Temel Kanunu), Law on Primary Education and Training (İlköğretim ve Eğitim Kanunu), Animal Protection Law (Hayvanları Koruma Kanunu), Associations Law (Dernekler Kanunu).
In addition to the reference made under Article 190 of the Presidential Decree 1, dated 10/07/2018, volunteers are mentioned in various laws, regulations and other legislation documents. Here are some of the laws that involve volunteering:
1) Provincial Special Administration Law, voluntary participation in Provincial Special Administration Services, Article 65
2) Municipality Law, Neighborhood and Management, Article 9; voluntary participation in municipal service Article 77
3) Environmental Law, Definitions, Environmental volunteers
4) Law on the Disabled, General Principles, Article 4
5) National Afforestation and Erosion Control Mobilization Law, Implementation, Article 4
6) Health Services Basic Law, Basic Principles, Article 3, Article 4
7) The Basic Law of National Education, Education Everywhere, Article 17; Coordination, Article 42, Primary School Construction and Equipping Works, Article 75
The 11th Development Plan (2019-2023) of the history of the Republic includes important policies regarding volunteering goals. In this context, “An inclusive framework arrangement will be made that strengthens the field of civil society and volunteering.” provision is included under 2.5. Rule of Law, Democratization and Good Governance, 184.108.40.206. in 776. 1 under the title of Civil Society.