|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
96th Meeting (AM)
General Assembly, in Consensus Action, Adopts Text Proclaiming 6 April
‘International Day of Sport for Development and Peace’
In a consensus action today, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 6 April the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.
By its terms, the Assembly invited States, the United Nations System, relevant international organizations, civil society, international, regional and national sports organizations, as well as all other relevant stakeholders, to observe and raise awareness of the International Day.
Further by the text, the Assembly stressed that the costs of all activities arising from the resolution’s implementation must be met from voluntary contributions, subject to the availability and provision of voluntary contributions for that purpose.
Vuk Jeremić ( Serbia), President of the General Assembly, described the resolution as “historic”, emphasizing that the significance of sport in improving an individual’s character and a society’s welfare could be traced back to the dawn of civilization. The Greeks had placed sport at the very centre of their identity by establishing the Olympics Games some two and a half millennia ago, he said, adding that war was forbidden during competition so that athletes and spectators could travel safely to watch the events.
Indeed, the most important thing in the Olympics was not winning but taking part and contesting well and nobly, he continued. In many ways, sport embodied humanity’s most valiant characteristics as it required perseverance, discipline, fair play, and honourable competition. Across the globe today, sports programmes had been used to deliver HIV/AIDS prevention messages, promote child and maternal health and further gender equality, he said, adding that today’s resolution built on those initiatives by recognizing sport as a unique way to attract, mobilize and inspire people around the world. Sport could also serve as a tool for development, he said, expressing hope that its inherent values would help in defining the post-2015 development agenda.
He went on to pay tribute to the great athletes of the past, whose achievements, character and moral fortitude had earned them a place of distinction. More specifically, Jesse Owens had defied fascist ideology with his victories at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he said as he also expressed deep admiration for the para-athletes who defied disabilities and defeated negative stereotypes through sport. It was a powerful tool for peace and reconciliation which caused ethnic, religious and economic divisions to fall by the wayside, alongside prejudice, fear and misunderstanding, he stressed. “The stadium, the swimming pool, the dusty local pitch — such sites are transformed into places where greatness is within reach for all, where purity of endeavour is on full display, and where any individual’s abilities can be seen and admired without reservation.”
Presenting the draft resolution, Monaco’s representative noted that sport for development and peace had been on the Assembly’s agenda since 1993, and stressed the power of sport in contributing to that end. She also underscored the link between sport and healthy lifestyles, and its contribution to reconciliation in conflict-hit countries.
Papua New Guinea’s delegate, speaking in explanation of position, described the formidable challenge his Government faced in creating unity among the country’s population of 7 million, which comprised many tribes and ethnic groups speaking more than 800 languages. However, unity was evident when they were supporting a national team in international games, he said, recalling that Papua New Guinea had hosted regional games in July which had brought 23 Pacific Island States together. The Government had injected $18 million into upgrading facilities, showing its commitment to the promotion of sport for development and peace.
The representative of the United States said that the diverse nature of sport in her country ranged from backyard little league games to world-class Olympic-level competition. Sport presented an opportunity to advance development and peace, she said, adding that she was particularly pleased to see that the resolution safeguarded human dignity without discrimination and promoted inclusiveness by bringing people from all walks of life together. Sport crossed all segments of society “no matter what they look like, where they worship and whom they love”. Sports diplomacy was a valuable means for strengthening cooperation and fostering tolerance, she added, noting also that the use of sport as an educational tool had long been underestimated.
The representative of the European Union delegation said the bloc was committed to multilateral action to promote sport by fostering the inclusion of all people, regardless of age, sexual orientation or religion. Sport also helped to overcome linguistic, cultural and other barriers. He reiterated that the proclamation of United Nations days, years and decades must be consistent with the relevant Economic and Social Council and General Assembly resolutions.
Australia’s delegate said sport could enhance social interaction and even facilitate peaceful conflict resolution. The United Nations played an important role in using sport to promote social inclusion, regardless of race, faith and sexual orientation, among other differences. “Sport provides a level playing field.”
Costa Rica’s representative noted that his Government had incorporated sport into national policies, stressing its potential as “a universal language”. Costa Rica had hosted the Central American Games in March, he said, adding that the role of sport was among the topics to be discussed during the upcoming World Youth Summit, to be held in his country.
Israel’s representative said he was proud of the fact that Jews and Arabs participated together in many international sports without bias. Commending the organization Sports for Life for bringing Jewish and Arab youth together through sport by promoting unity and cooperation, he said he had also been highly inspired by Paralympians who pushed physical boundaries. Recalling that Jewish athletes had been barred from competing in the Berlin Olympics, and that Israeli team members had been taken hostage and eventually killed during the 1972 Munich Olympics, he said that when it came to sport, it was important to ensure there was no discrimination on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation.
The representative of Belarus, while recognizing sport’s contribution to peace, warned, however, against using sport for political purposes, which was against its very principles. He called on the greater international community to become more active in defending sport, saying it was important for the United Nations to establish methods of cooperation that could help protect the spirit of the Olympics and not allow the Games to be politicized.
The General Assembly will meet again at a date and time to be announced.
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