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UN group meets to promote sports for peace and development

UN group meets to promote sports for peace and development

Seeking to reap the benefits of sports for peacebuilding, socio-economic development and health, a consortium of athletes, United Nations officials, government leaders and sports federations met today at UN Headquarters in New York to adopt a policy declaration aimed at national governments around the world.

The International Working Group on Sport for Development and Peace was established during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens in an effort to combine sport and play programmes worldwide with development policy. 2005 was proclaimed the Year of Sport and Physical Education by the UN General Assembly.

At today’s meeting, the Group identified existing programmes that successfully utilize sports for peace and development goals, such as initiatives that bring together Israeli and Palestinian children through football, help former child combatants overcome trauma through play, and educate youth on the risks of HIV/AIDS through games.

The Group will also make specific recommendations on how governments can incorporate Sport for Development initiatives into their policies and development assistant programmes, adopting a declaration of commitment to ensure that Sport for Development recommendations are reflected in national policies and receive government funding.

Participants in the day-long meeting included Louise Fréchette, UN Deputy-Secretary-General; Adolf Ogi, Special Adviser to Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Sport for Development and Peace; Stephen Owen, Canadian Minister of State for Sport and Dr. Dennis Bright, Minister of Youth and Sport of Sierra Leone.

The International Working Group is supported by the Governments of Switzerland, Canada and Norway, along with the UN Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) and the UN New York Office of Sport for Development and Peace. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) chairs the initiative.

The international humanitarian organization Right to Play, led by four-time

Olympic gold medalist Johann O. Koss of Norway, is the secretariat of the

Group and is driving the initiative.