With a little over a week to go before the Winter Olympics open in Sochi, Russia, General Assembly President John Ashe today urged United Nations Member States to observe the historic tradition of ceasing hostilities ahead of the Games.
“I solemnly appeal to all Member States to demonstrate their commitment to the Olympic Truce for the 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Mr. Ashe said reading his Solemn Appeal at the UN Headquarters in New York.
He urged Governments “to undertake concrete actions at the local, national, regional and world levels to promote and strengthen a culture of peace and harmony based on the spirit of the Truce.”
The symbolic Truce will start one week before the XXII Olympic Winter Games, due to take place 7 to 23 February, and will run until a week after the closing of the XI Paralympic Winter Games, to be held 7 to 16 March.
The ancient Greek tradition of the ekecheiria, or Olympic Truce, was born in the eighth century BC “to encourage a peaceful environment and ensure safe passage, access and participation for athletes and relevant persons at the Games, thereby mobilizing the youth of the world to the cause of peace.”
“I also call upon all warring parties of current armed conflicts around the world to boldly agree to true mutual ceasefires for the duration of the Olympic Truce, thus providing an opportunity to settle disputes peacefully,” Mr. Ashe said, adding that the UN flag will fly at the Olympic Park.
Mr. Ashe today follows a tradition that starting in 1994, when Assembly Presidents began making a Solemn Appeal for the observance of a truce during the Winter and Summer Games. Since 2006, the appeal was also made for the subsequent Paralympic Games.
In November, the 193-Member Assembly underlined the importance of cooperating to “collectively implement the values of the Olympic truce around the world.”
In a resolution adopted by consensus, the Assembly agreed to “cooperate with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee in their efforts to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond” the holding of the Games.
At that time, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the Assembly's resolution and urged all countries to transform it into action by pressing for an end to all hostilities during the Olympic Games and by promoting the spirit of the Truce throughout the year.