UN Assembly Proclaims 6 April International Day of Sport for Development and Peace23 August 2013
New York (UN/UNOSDP)- The United Nations General Assembly today proclaimed 6 April as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, as the body’s President hailed the decision a “historic” step in recognizing the power of sport to erase cultural barriers and mobilize people around the world.
This follows the call for such a Day at the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) joint Forum on Sport for Peace and Development in June 2013. The aim is to recognize the international progress of the use of sport in development and peace initiatives. This announcement also looks to build on the efforts made to mainstream sport in policy-making at all levels. The International Day will advocate the UN’s contribution to education, human development, healthy lifestyles and a peaceful world through sport.
“Sport can be a powerful handmaiden for peace and reconciliation. It can bring us closer through shared celebration of achievements of universal appeal and attraction,” said General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic, adding that ethnic, religious and economic divisions fall by the wayside, along with prejudice, fear and misunderstanding.
While travelling on a mission with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the Republic of Korea, the UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Mr. Wilfried Lemke, said that he felt encouraged by the global progress made using sport as a tool for development, peace and conflict resolution.
“Over my career, I have been blessed with the opportunity to witness firsthand the impact of Sport for Development and Peace projects around the world. This International Day will help to recognize the long lasting effects that sport can have on developing communities and nations. I hope that through this decision, these initiatives will not go unobserved, but will in the future be celebrated through this Day and have a continued positive legacy within society.”
The IOC President, Dr. Jacques Rogge, was in New York to witness the adoption. In the informal segment following the Assembly’s plenary session, he said: “We have seen the true worth of sport and physical activity many times. It builds self-confidence; it defies gender stereotypes; it provides an alternative to conflict and delinquency; it improves health; it can bring hope and a sense of purpose to refugees, impoverished communities and other people in need,” and added that sport had played an invaluable role in the global effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and combat non-communicable diseases.
Also present was Mr. Novak Djokovic, who is ranked the world's number one tennis player and a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). Speaking as a member of the world’s athletic community he said that he hoped the International Day would motivate people to do more to cultivate intrinsic sporting values such as fair play, teamwork and respect for opponents.
“These ideals are universal. Every successful society is built on them, and the more we instil respect for these ideals in ourselves, the better the world will be that we leave to our successors,” he said.
* * *