Sport to Promote Social Inclusion and Diversity
At the most fundamental level, well-designed sport activities that incorporate the best values of sport – self-discipline, respect for one’s opponent, fair play, teamwork, and adherence to mutually agree upon rules – help individuals to build the values and communication skills necessary to prevent and resolve conflict in their own lives.
Sport can also be used to reduce tensions and prevent conflict on a broader, community-wide level. Violence has many causes – including lack of opportunity arising from social and economic exclusion. Excluded populations vary greatly, as does the extent of their exclusion. However, excluded populations often include indigenous peoples, members of minority ethno-cultural groups, asylum seekers and refugees, girls and women, persons with disabilities, homeless people, and out-of-school unemployed youth. All people living in extreme poverty suffer from exclusion.
Sport can play an important role in reducing social tensions and conflicts at the community and national level by addressing the sources of this exclusion and providing an alternative entry point into the social and economic life of communities.
The SDP IWG Report, “Harnessing the Power of Sport for Development and Peace: Recommendations to Governments”, made the following policy and programmatic recommendations which Member States, with SDP IWG support, are encouraged to implement:
- Include sport as a tool in government strategies, to address the challenges confronting excluded populations and to prevent conflicts arising from these challenges.
- Consider gender impacts and ensure girls and women are fully included in all peace initiatives because they are key stakeholders in the peace-building process.
- Engage key people and larger target populations in sport for peace initiatives.
- Be aware of the contexts and vulnerabilities of certain target populations in designing and delivering sport for peace initiatives.
- Ensure that sport for peace activities are inclusive of persons with disabilities – particularly those with a new disability resulting from conflict.
- Chose the appropriate sport to use in sport for peace initiatives, giving due consideration to local socio-cultural, sport and program contexts.
- Involve targeted beneficiaries, partners and other stakeholders in the evaluation and documentation process to increase ownership and improve the flow of honest, useful feedback between a program’s stakeholders and its organizers.
- Work with partners in a way that sends a positive ethical message to participating communities.
- Adapt and apply the principle of “do no harm” in all sport for peace initiatives.
- Use existing social spaces where people cross in natural ways to leverage the inherent attraction of such spaces and the platform they provide for sport activities.