Voluntas, Volunteering, Voluntary: on strategic thinking and capacity building in light of the “Theory of Alterity as Intention (Ruiz-Restrepo, 2011)”


European Volunteer Centre EVC / Centre Européen du Volontariat

2017 April 6-7, London

Developing European Volunteering Strategies: Capacity Building Conference



Good afternoon,

I am honored to be here in this European conference on strategy in volunteering action and voluntary organizations. Thank you very much to EVC/CEV for the invitation and Team London for having us in this beautiful City Hall. My name is Adriana Ruiz-Restrepo and I am a jurist, an attorney and political scientist. As an attorney I work with the established binding rules of a society applicable to a given case, initiative or organization. As a jurist I research and reflect on the pertinence of the law, the need or not of new or amended rules or overarching principles to better organize our human society in constant transformation. The training in political science allows to detect and try to understand the underlying social forces producing and seeking to produce the rule of law in a given country or transnationally in globalizing world.

Along a period of 20 years and running parallel to my personal and professional life I have been independently, interdisciplinary and transculturally thinking around one single question: what is the existence, the nature of the nonprofit and/or non-governmental organizations and the sector they form?  A question pertaining both the unit and the collection, the human organization per se, its distinctiveness as a social phenomenon. Approached as unit, on which I zoomed-in analysis to observe and understand the reasons and decisions of the human undertaking and ways of the individuals’ structuring as one single acting unit amidst many legal dresses or vehicles, demonstrated confusing and opaque information. Zoomed out, the analysis of the collection of organizations as a holistic societal phenomenon in terms of Michael Edwards, an emerging sector in terms of Salamon and Anheir or evidence of our unfinished democracy following Rosanvallon, portrays a nebulose of human organizations that is vague and equivocal.

To try to give it stability an array of rotatory and unending values have been assorted to it varying according to countries and traditions which try to correct the vagueness by affirming a key social value in it such as the idea of a voluntary, independent, beneficial, benevolent, prosocial, associational, solidary, philanthropic, cooperative, altruistic, compassionate, charitable or humanitarian segment of society, often called also a Third Sector of socioeconomic activities and organizations. A sector that being third   implies the existence of some preceding  first and second sectors and nothing says about the possibilities of a fourth, or fifth.  Imprecision was the crosscutting feature of both the unit and sector of analysis. As a way of example affirming that this sector is  voluntary connotes that the other neighboring sectors are less voluntary which is certainly an approximation to the contingency of the sector but imprecise as it is untrue that  commerce or government are mandatory or compulsory. Same happens with the ideas independent and prosocial, associational and overall charitable, altruistic or philanthropic are insufficient to encompass all manifestations of the sector, just as collective, reciprocal, solidaristic or fraternal.

Relying on a generalized if not universal description that is negative, that describes what the nature of the organization is not (non-governmental) and residual, that describes what the nature of the organization doesn’t seek or pretend (not for profit) is in fact a conceptual demarcation, not a definition. It informs about the boundaries of an unnamed nature, of an unindividuated actor or subject of action, it remains silent on what the organization is per se. Identity, Identification and Recognition are fundamental attributes of any entity or being even more so if it receives high praise, gifs and reduced burden of obligations. The sector known to be non, not/for or third happens to be intuitively appreciated by communities which grant it reputation and valued by legislators who grant them either preferential access to budgetary/fiscal resources of the State in the form of subventions or special procurement or an unrequested or lessened contribution to the national treasure of the community or tax levy.

Certainty is the underlying value of the prescriptive discipline of law, it is the source of security and fairness. They all depend and rely on logics, without logics predictability and reasoning are inhibited[i] and opinion and interpretation take their place.  That is why I had an inutive need of finding the precise and clear space of action in which we could do, in a safe and sound manner, our volunteer work serving vulnerable population in the streets of Cali and Bogota in the eighties[ii] and nineties decades in Colombia. A preoccupation that turned into a legal concern for understanding the juridical space[iii] of action  of the non-governmental nonprofit organizations which later became a query for the  true and positive identity[iv], the essence or nature that within such space needs to be safeguarded[v] by the rule of law[vi] whatever its distinct and specific nature could be.

It was a long path to understand that the turbulence and opaqueness of the organization and the sector vis-a-vis the community, the market and the state was not a problem of uncertainty in description in language or terminology but rooted deeper, it was conceptual problem. Between 1995 and 2008 three hypothesis, which I discarded for being vague[vii], insufficient[viii] or imprecise[ix] allowed me to not only to articulate a matrix of analysis including teleology and gradation, but to understand that the problem was not language or definition but the lack of it. That the problem was not a specific to a country, region, language or languages nor a failure in eurolaintamerican or angloamerican legal systems and traditions but a more universal problem, the absence of a clear and precise concept to individualize and name the “something” the nature said to non govenermental not profit third and capable of producing a vast array of effects with a clear and precise value.

Let me use the example I first used in an ABA session almost 10 years ago, lets imagine that I have just arrived  here you don’t see me and  a voice presents Adriana Ruiz Restrepo as am a non-quadruped being, not-for-flight proceeding form the fourth kingdom of nature. The compass of possibilities t would include a bird, a worm, a duck or monkey, information by demarcation is very precarious. That is how a non-governmental nonprofit legal person or subject of rights and obligations appears to my juridical mind, unclear and imprecise, thus opaque as a unit of action and vague as a sector. Our mind cannot think negatively and residually no matter how much we reiterate, accessorize, praise, adorn and try to normalize the negative residual terminology through the recurrent use of the words in communication. Trying to correct uncertainty with an array of virtues and values assorted to the non/not-for/third organization or way of human action will not produce a definition, no matter how many positive values we assort the conceptual void with, it does not solve nor appeased the unrest caused by illogical thinking.

Presenting the non/not-for entities as civil society organizations is certainly useful to inform provenance or origin of the manifestation but still says nothing about the operational logic and is, additionally  very hard to represent conceptually in the mind. “Civil society” is an extremely vast and diverse notion encompassing all non-state actors, business included, requiring a basic understanding of Social Contract Theory, State and Constitutional law Theory, and fundamental human liberties and civil rights history.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there” is a Lewis Carol quote which captures universal human knowledge on the importance of having strategy, advancing with a clear aim or objective, a fixed destiny, north or goal to reach or achieve, a position to attain. For me the refrain is useful chiefly to depict the idea of deliberate human movement, one that may be corporal or representational and that is decided by an individual conscience, driven by a desire or intention underlying human will. Let me explain this better. The word “purpose” has its etymological origin in Latin in the terms “pro” and “positum” hence it transmits the idea of moving forward or advancement in “pro” and idea of putting or placing in “positum” as a fixed situation or position.  Both examples, the refrain and the etymological, allow to represent the idea of two points, the present point of being and the future point or placeholder of aspiration, that of departure and arrival. Action is what happens unites both in a trajectory as a physical path or mental plan either of them projected by an individual’s mind and decision within the vast field of existence where the actor is standing or being. Purpose informs about the itinerary uniting departure and arrival, the activities to undertake, the “what for” of the path or plan of the foreseen trajectory. However it states nothing about the “why” of the entering into action of the subject be it a natural or legal person. The cause of movement or reason of existence of a trajectory remains implicit in the verb or action.

In the idea of propos[x], purpose[xi], propósito[xii] ,[xiii] and proposito[xiv] in French, English, Spanish Portuguese and Italian I main that that within the notion of “pro” underlies the cause of advancement, the impulse, drive or desire animating movement or action, initiating the trajectory,  the animus or intent which henceforth will animate and orient, guide  the sense of forwardness. Intention  is what  informs, orients and articulates the subsequent course of action of the subject it guides the “why” of the legal or natural person´s trajectory keeping it articulated and coherent instead of intermittent or deviating. Knowing intention is understanding the sense of the undertaking of the deployed effort.

In the Theory I explain that animation of will, intention or animus has one of two directions, which are mutually exclusive. Hence, an individual may opt to orient acts, activities and establish an organization following an ego-intention, a trajectory or course of action returning to self and the realm of what I explain as egoity, or orient acts, activities and establish an organization following an alter-intiention that projecting from self, implicates the individual with the realm of alterity of the others and or what is other to self. The first, which is common and current for the sake securing existence and coexistence as a singular induvial and member of a social community is intent that  departs and returns to the source it emanated from, to the selfhood or ipseity which creates a sphere of  juridical egoity encompassing all that is identitary to self, my and mine. The second type of intention, less frequent and thus exceptional to the rule, recognizing the existence of one in entities or beings other than self, departs and implicates with the other or others and deliberately affirms them. As a derogation of the return to self, effects don’t close up on nor accumulate in the realm of egoity but instead propagate on the others and/or what is other and was liberally, voluntarily decided to implicate with, all which results in the creation of intersubectivity within society.

In philosophy and other disciplines like anthropology, alterity and ipseity are not an engagement nor a commitment as intruded in the theory where I use them as an opposing binary and conceptualize them as juridical manifestation in the form of deed, agreement or incorporated legal or artificial person. For-alterity organizations as opposed to Not-for-Profit Organizations posits the identity and the nature of the unit and the set of organizations and with it the intended will or trajectory of the actor and the reasonable expectation that other actors in the field may forge around its course of action.

Juridical Alterity I argue is the principle, the soul or character, if I may, of the legal personalities said to be non-govenermental not-for-profit organizations, I maintain that it is the operational logic of sociability in society.  Experimentally and successfully applied in litigation first and refined as system of government innovation in 2012, if you understand Spanish you may read how nongovernamentalness and nonprofitness was rationalized for purposes of regulation through an epistemological solution.

In light of this Theory which clarifies that there are organizations for doing commerce and profit and  others  for doing government and public administration, I argue that the organizations for manifesting human alterity, the Third Sector, is more of a zero or primal sector, an Alpha Sector  upholding what is human in humanity. The possibility of alterity of deliberately wanting to create intersubectivity and interdependence with the others and the other has been intuitively valued in society and safeguarded within the rule of law, it was underlying, unearthed and covered by the equivocal, imprecise and unclear terms of a non govenermental and not for profit nature we became accustomed to.

In Brussels, I was pleased to see how rapidly Gabriella Civico saw the interest and utility of my work addressing the problem of identity and the old phantom of the “social mission” of the sector, that which I argue is basically the alter-intentionality in human will or the voluntas of an individual’s act or activity of volunteering and tacitly present in the deed, charter of incorporation or articles of association establishing a voluntary organization.

I am honored to be presenting this brief synthesis of my work here today, and doing so for opening your two days of work reflecting as European civil society on how to better your strategy for volunteering action. Regardless of if the action is an occasional act an episodic activity of alter-intentionality or a more permanent way of action incorporated in legally established alter-intentioned organization, think how would the principle of juridical alterity bring more identity and articulation to your freely acquired, your volunteering or voluntary implication with the others and what is other to self?  How does it tighten the coherency between what you say you do and you effectively do? From Denmark to Croatia and Scotland to Spain try to identify where is your alter-intent visible where is it actually creating intersubectivity in the area of sports, active ageing, culture, refuges migrants, youth or rurality. Bear in mind that intersubectivity is always horizontal between two subjects, it is not aleatory nor instrumental it is not human interaction nor interrelation. If you were requested to be publicly transparent in the conformity of your for-alterity intention and for-alterity operation, how aligned are you, what decisions and actions would you be happy and pride to portray as a true and positive example of the contingent and exceptional intent of affirmation and implication with the others and/or the other.

I wish I could have more time to present to you the full matrix of analysis and its tests, the system of juridical thought and interpretation that could help you empower in your distinctive identity, safeguard your vital and operational space, your juridical space as a civil and alter-intentioned legal person while sharing ideas on how to better your transparency and strategy in volunteering, a key subsector of what I believes the Alterity Sector. One which first emanates  as  human action, acts and activities which  many eventually stabilize and establishes as organizations, all of these manifestations of will and intention to implicate with the others and what is other than self. And by this reason capable of preserving humankind, so that we  may not be only be efficient and prosperous, orderly and harmonious but above all open to our context and environment, implicating and implicated,  awakened in alterity, human at the end of the day.

I sincerely hope we may continue, personally or electronically, the conversation that we have begun through EVC/CEV today,

Thank you very much.



[i] 2005, http://bit.ly/2fq0LOD

[ii] 1984, http://bit.ly/2q4cTOL (recognition of volunteering as counterbalancing guerrilla, drug trafficking and delinquency)

[iii]1995, http://bit.ly/2diADcd

[iv]2004,  http://bit.ly/2g4jwsD

[v]2009, http://bit.ly/2f7hgnq

[vi]2005, http://bit.ly/2g1GLai ;  2006, http://bit.ly/2fuDuOQ

[vii] Hypothesis 1 (Participatory Organizations in Development) as employed in  http://bit.ly/2diADcd

[viii] Hypothesis 2 (Solidary Organizations) as employed in http://bit.ly/2ghLQe1  http://bit.ly/2gisAwB , http://bit.ly/2ghfVGN, http://bit.ly/2f7oasE

[ix] Hypothesis 3 (Civic-Solidary Organizations) as employed in http://bit.ly/2q4xTES

[x]  http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/propos/64400  http://www.cnrtl.fr/etymologie/proposer/verbe

[xi]  http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=purpose

[xii] http://etimologias.dechile.net/?propo.sito

[xiii] https://www.priberam.pt/dlpo/prop%C3%B3sito

[xiv] https://unaparolaalgiorno.it/significato/P/proposito





Twitter @ruizrestrepo Fb  xxx,  www.rrathinktankalteritas Alteritas@rra-law-innovation.com www.ruizrestrepo.com  Adriana



. Intention set the cause of movement, just like pro deploys its advancement and position fixes the end or goal.


As such it illustrates the existence of an impulse or driver of action within the “pro” and a place or situation in the field within the idea of “position” expected to reach, achieve or attain. Purpose  explains the why of the trajectory undertaken but is says nothing  about the undertaken e what for of the trajectory, the animus or intent of changing from a state of inaction to a state of action, the why not of the why of movement, the cause of the action, the sense of effort.

It presents the existence of a point of being and a point of aspiration, a position of departure and a position of arrival, a notion of movement and along it the necessary dimensions of space or field and of time or duration, an intended or projected trajectory devised by a human conscience and undertaken by a deliberate, free or voluntary decision. It portrays a  path , and this doens not implicate not only a segment of distance  but also of orientation, a sense articulating the path and imprints, engraves the reason of  doing so, the what for of the movement which keeps rational and coherent the course of action in accordance to one’s individual will.

“Purpose” is a word with an etymological origin in Latin, concretely the terms pro and positio. As such it illustrates the existence of an impulse or driver of action within the “pro” and a place or situation in the field within the idea of “position” expected to reach, achieve or attain. Purpose  explains the why of the trajectory undertaken but is says nothing  about the undertaken e what for of the trajectory, the animus or intent of changing from a state of inaction to a state of action, the why not of the why of movement, the


That is what volunteering and voluntary means, terms which  rooted in the Latin word Voluntas  in this land was once upon a time Britania, when neighboring  with   Hispania, Gallia, means that it tha acts, activities or organization is not compulsory or necessary , but a  contingency not a necessity in securing one’s life as singular existence or  in a plural  coexistent, like the acts, activities or organization we humans create and integrate for earning a living, bettering life or livelihood, or living  as a member of a community established on shared territory.

So why is it contingent, what for will one get into all the effort and trouble of doing something that is not necessary but is voluntary? Because law and society although undefined and unnamed had reserved also a space for preserving what is human in humanity, which is certainly y not doing acts activities and establishing organizations for commerce and for government only.  When applying the recommendation that I had the opportunity to read in the handbook please try to apply the core of the theory I just shred with you? How is the organization that is not doing business or government as it is current and usual but is instead voluntarily liberally orienting its course of action to implicate it the others / other, what are the forms in which you and your organization are creating intersubectivity and through it creating human dialogue, synergy, union or leverage?   The goal or position of health xxx which you seek to attain or achieve is an objective, orientation for you, it answer the why you do it, but for good strategy for inspiring and attracting the best and keep you course of action coherent as an alter-intentioned organization for alterity organization and not only a not for profit or not governmental you need to maintain the merit, the virtue of  having an exceptional course of action one that keeps propagating and transforming humanity and society, and not returning and accumulating its utility.

Saint Exupery  said that in life there is no solution that there are only forces of change that one has to create them for solutions to follow, well I hope that in this very short synthesis  in which I tried to explain that that we don’t work not I anon profit not governmental sector but in the alterity sector will allow you keep your strategy, that what animates you in line, orienting and informing your course of action and activities the exceptionality by which you and your organizations deserve not only tax cuts, aid, cooperation and other legal prerogatives but the affection and praise of your community and naturally my gratitude for allowing me to exchange my theory with you today with the hope of counting our exchange on how to better sagefaug and promote the sector that maintains and promotes the dynamics of alterity within our humankind




Please writ info ruizrestrepo, twiiter

















or that reflects an array of  fueatures in human action and causes a myriad of effects that however form four clear patterns of manifestation of “voluntas” of the individual human will that opts to implicate with the other or the others and as such a deliberate act of conscience, decision and action of a physical person.

Unlike the organizations for doing commerce and profit and the organizations for doing government and carrying the public administration of the State,  .







Alteritas lab rra !!!!

Citas paris, aba , brasil col


the question the solution end with  Denquibn

my inqure on the reasons of unstability ,  of vagueness in definition, aroung the  lack of clarity of topaqueness or turbulence around its nature what ever it could be  as  this was the root cause for  undue legal restrictions and abuse or corruption of its  legal forms, the pathologies, literally the suffering of the logics of what evet this existence was and along it its realm for existence and  compass of action, its juruudcal or vital space.

si of entities,

is that of human beings either acting directly as physical persons or embodied, incorporated as legal persons or formalized organizations.



The ambiguous organization,  the  vague sector and the insecureent trubulent or opaque, witout legal securyt due to the  unindividualized and therefoe  unnamed nature the lack of understangin of what these organizations are per se.

Based on my volunteering and voluntary orgniazitions experience[1] which begun at a very youn age in the school years spent in south west  Colombia, in my hometown of Cali, an experience from which arose the concern about the compass of action or space to create and operate e for holding armonically and coherently  specificity within the rule of law, of our private voluntary independent work vis a vis  the public, institutional, mandated work of the state apparatus,  I begun during law school I in Bogota to inquire around the  lack of clarity and precision of the organizations said to be


. independent, voluntary, solidary etc, the root problem was ininteligibility, the  absolut vacuum  of concept, the manifested void or absence of an individualized stand alone idea or notion.

,   ie the legal dresses available in each country whice despite idiomatic and cultural differences are similar across countries



nonprofit non governmental[2], civil, beneficial for the common good, solidaric, philanthropic. Inquire for that substance within the organization that gives it its specificity and is what is crosscutting to the sector holding it together as a nebulose if not a universe of organizations.

That there was no clear and precise concept underlying the negative residual sequential or rotatory terms

[1] Volunteering Policia comparte tu alegria aseintir 1984 to 1995 url in civisol



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