Recognizing the potential of sport as a valuable tool in the achievement of peace and development, the General Assembly today adopted a resolution reaffirming its use to promote dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and after the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Further to that text, adopted without a vote, the Assembly urged Member States to observe the Olympic Truce from the seventh day before the start of the XXXI Olympic Summer Games next August until the seventh day following the end of the XV Paralympic Summer Games next September — both to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They also called for cooperation among Member States, the United Nations system and the International Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committees to maximise sport’s potential in contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Introducing the text, the representative of Brazil said the Olympic spirit had a “unique power to transform the lives of millions of people and change history”. He added that the selection of Rio to host next year’s Olympic Games had opened a gateway to 180 million young people in South America and was an inspiration.
Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, said that body’s Olympic Agenda 2020 was fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goal 16 on building accountable, effective and inclusive institutions. Sport, he said, was the only area of human existence that had achieved universal law. Regardless of where in the world it was practiced, the same rules applied. That principle of non-discrimination allowed sport to promote peace and understanding among all people.
The Committee, together with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was assisting refugees around the world by giving them hope and self-confidence through sport and it had set up a $2 million fund to support them as well as the current mission of its former President, Jacques Rogge, now the United Nations Special Envoy on Youth Refugees and Sport. The Committee would invite the most qualified refugee athletes — who otherwise would not be able to compete as they had no home country to represent — to participate in the upcoming Olympic Games under the Olympic flag and would be welcomed with the Olympic anthem.
Other speakers acknowledged the power of sport to unify people. The representative of Singapore said that it had “built social capital, inspired the human spirit, and brought people together, transcending differences”. The attributes of sport — tenacity, teamwork, and leadership - were needed more than ever as the world became more globalized.
India’s representative said that sport could help teach principles such as non-discrimination, equality and human rights as well as empower women and young people. Sports, games and physical fitness had been an integral part of India’s heritage and were seen today in the highly evolved system of yoga and the wide range of indigenous games and martial arts practiced throughout the country.
Some delegations outlined their national sports programmes. For example, Zambia’s representative highlighted the country’s “Go Sisters” programme for girls aged 12 to 25, which encouraged them to take on leadership roles by forming committees to lead education and sport programmes. Street children and those inflicted with HIV had been incorporated into those programmes.
Mongolia’s representative noted that sport was deeply rooted in the traditional life of Mongols. Wrestling, horseracing, and archery were the three age-old competitions used to measure the courage and strength of nomads.
Prior to the adoption of the resolution, the Assembly paid tribute to Ali Abdussalam Treki, President of the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session, who died on 20 October 2015. The meeting opened with a minute of silence to honour his memory. Several delegations took the floor to express their condolences and pay tribute to his diplomatic career.
Also speaking today were representatives of Sierra Leone (on behalf of the African Group), Cambodia (on behalf of the Asia-Pacific States), Slovakia (on behalf of the Eastern European States), Saint Kitts (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States), Ireland (on behalf of Western European and Other States), United States, Libya, Monaco, Tunisia, Japan, Greece, Morocco, Qatar, United Republic of Tanzania, Italy, Cuba, Argentina and Ukraine, as well as the European Union.
The Assembly will reconvene at 3 pm. Tuesday, 27 October to consider its agenda item on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.
As the General Assembly met today to consider sport for development and peace, it had before it a draft resolution titled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal” (document A/70/L.3).
Prior to that, the Assembly paid tribute to the memory of Ali Abdussalam Treki (Libya), President of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly, who died on 20 October 2015.
Tribute to Former Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki
VANDI CHIDI MINAH (Sierra Leone), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said Ali Treki was an African statesman leaving behind a trail of public service on the national and international arenas. The Group noted Mr. Treki’s service as Chair of the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), Vice President of the Assembly’s thirty-seventh session and President of its sixty-fourth session. Extending deep condolences to Libya and Mr. Treki’s family, the Group encouraged them to find solace in his service. In his speech as Assembly President, Mr. Treki had pointed out that the Second World War had given victory to certain States and the world had changed since then. As the international community considered a revitalization of the Assembly and Security Council reform, those words should be borne in mind.
RY TUY (Cambodia), speaking on behalf of the Asia-Pacific States, said that Mr. Treki had been a man of deep knowledge, and a veteran in the field of diplomacy and international relations. During his tenure as Libya’s Secretary of African Union Affairs he had played a significant role in the creation of the African Union. His passing was not only felt by the African States, but by many Member States of the United Nations.
FRANTIŠEK RUŽIČKA (Slovakia), speaking on behalf of the Eastern European States, said that Mr. Treki had been an experienced diplomat who had made significant contributions to peace and stability, mediating in many international conflicts. As Assembly President, he was remembered for cultivating the spirit of cooperation.
SAM TERENCE CONDOR (Saint Kitts and Nevis), speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States, noted Mr. Treki’s long career at the service of his country. Listing Mr. Treki’s postings, he noted that Mr. Treki had also served as Permanent Representative of Libya to the United Nations three times, as well as having chaired the Assembly’s Fourth Committee. His election as President of the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session had been the culmination of a career dedicated to international relations. Mr. Treki would be remembered for his dedication to the African Union and the Non-Aligned Movement.
TIM MAWE (Ireland), speaking on behalf of Western European and Other States, extended condolences to Mr. Treki’s family and noted his tireless work in advancing United Nations ideals. Serving as Minister for Foreign Affairs of his country several times, and Permanent Representative to the United Nations three times, as well as President of the sixty-fourth Assembly session, Mr. Treki had sought to promote Libyan cooperation with the international community.
ISOBEL COLEMAN (United States), speaking on behalf of the host country, conveyed condolences to Mr. Treki’s family and the people of Libya. He was a distinguished diplomat and had been instrumental in establishing the African Union’s mediation of several conflicts across the continent.
IBRAHIM O. A. DABBASHI (Libya) thanked the President of the Assembly, the representatives of the regional groups, the host country, the Secretary-General and everyone who had done so, for their heartfelt condolences. Mr. Treki’s 40-year career had included serving as Libya’s Foreign Minister and representative of the African Union. Mr. Treki had chaired the Fourth Committee in 1983 at a time when a number of States were under the yoke of apartheid and colonialism. He always strove to bolster African diplomacy, and had helped mediate conflicts on the continent — including in Chad and Sudan — and in other areas, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, and during the Iran-Iraq war. He had demonstrated exemplary patience, despite the whims of various dictators at Libya’s helm, always striving to protect the country’s interests. He was one of its greatest symbols of diplomacy.
Sport for Development and Peace
CARLOS NUZMAN (Brazil) introduced the draft resolution on “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal” (document A/70/L.3), by which the Assembly would urge Member States to observe the Olympic Truce individually and collectively, within the framework of the United Nations Charter, throughout the period from the seventh day before the start of the XXXI Olympic Summer Games until the seventh day following the end of the XV Paralympic Summer Games, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Underlining the importance of cooperation among Member States to collectively implement the values of the Olympic Truce around the world, and emphasizing the important role of the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the United Nations in that regard, the Assembly would call upon all Member States to cooperate with those two Committees in their efforts to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Assembly would also welcome cooperation among Member States, the United Nations system, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee to maximize the potential of sport to make a meaningful, sustainable contribution to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and encourage the Olympic and Paralympic movements to work closely with national and international sports organizations on the use of sport to that end. Further, the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General and the Assembly President to promote the observance of the Olympic Truce among Member States and support human development initiatives through sport, while continuing to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the sporting community in general in the realization of those objectives.
He said that speaking about the Olympic Truce at the United Nations was the greatest honour of all. Sport brought a brighter future to everyone. The selection of Rio had opened a gateway to 180 million young people in South America, which was a new region for the Olympic movement, and hosting the Games for the first time was an inspiration. The Olympic spirit had a unique power to transform the lives of millions of people and change history. The Olympic Truce should not be a dream alone; he noted that he was at the United Nations to promote transformation through sport. Rio, with its partners and the strong support of its Government, thanked the seventieth Assembly and asked for its support for the draft.
LUNDEG PUREVSUREN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, welcomed today’s adoption of the resolution. The world leaders recognized sport as an important enabler of sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda. His Government also welcomed the Assembly decision to designate 6 April as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. Sport was deeply rooted in the traditional life of Mongols. Wrestling, horseracing, and archery were the three age-old competitions used to measure the courage and strength of nomads. Hence, sport development had been high on the agenda of his Government. Sport was also important in promoting human rights worldwide. Through its universal nature, sport could instill in people the values of respect, diversity, tolerance and fairness, and it served as a tool to combat all forms of discrimination. As a candidate seeking a seat on the Human Rights Council during the upcoming elections for members of that body, Mongolia stood strongly committed to the promotion of human rights, including through sport.
CHARLES WHITELEY, a representative of the European Union Delegation, said the European Union and its Member States remained committed to the value of the Olympic ideal. The Union would spare no effort to promote the ancient, but always timely, concept of the Olympic Truce as an invaluable means towards peace and solidarity. Sport was an invaluable tool to encourage dialogue and mutual understanding among people of different backgrounds. The Olympic Truce concept provided a unique opportunity to achieve the end of hostilities, even temporarily, and promote peaceful resolution of conflicts. With violent extremism increasing, the ideal of the Olympic Truce could serve as a historical example for reconciliation and peaceful co-existence, even for a short period of time. The Union was satisfied that this year’s Assembly resolution included several positive references on the protection of human rights and recognized that sport could be used to strengthen universal respect for human rights.
ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) said that her country associated with the drive to forge a peaceful and better world through the Olympic ideal. Sport contributed to development and peace, and to achieving the international community’s objectives on social inclusion, among other aims. Noting the intrinsic value of sport, she said that its vocabulary could easily be incorporated into the Assembly’s agenda, namely that no one should be left on the side-lines. The practice of sport was not limited to setting new records, but to bringing together people around the world to promote excellence and friendship.
MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia) said that sport played a very important and vital role historically in all communities. Sport had become one of the fundamental principles of the United Nations of human rights that deserved to be respected and applied as a low-cost and highly impacting tool for human aid development and peace. Sport was not only a practice, but supported social integrity and economic development. In the vein of using sport as a tool for social development, he expressed support for the draft resolution.
YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA (Japan) urged Member States to join together in adopting the Olympic Truce resolution, which had been adopted every two years since 1993. His country appreciated the initiative of Brazil, as the host of the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year, in submitting this year’s text. Japan would host the Games in Tokyo in 2020, with a view to realizing three ideals — achieving personal best, unity in diversity and connecting to the future. Every athlete could achieve his or her personal best. The Games would foster a welcoming environment and respect for differences in race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, and level of ability or other status. The 1964 Tokyo Games had enhanced the Japanese people’s awareness of the outside world and helped bring about the country’s rapid economic growth. Similarly, the 2020 Games would enable Japan to promote constructive changes around the world and leave a positive legacy for future generations. Under its “Sport for Tomorrow” initiative aimed at benefiting 10 million people in 100 countries, Japan was supporting the improvement of sport facilities and cooperating in sport curricula design and human resource development.
NAFSIKA NANCY EVA VRAILA (Greece), associating with the European Union, and outlining the origins of the Olympic Truce in ancient Greece, said it was observed seven days prior and seven days after the holding of the Olympic Games. Its goal was a peaceful competition and the safe passage of its athletes. The athletes that violated the Truce were banned from the Games. The practice had endured for 1,200 years and it was an invaluable tool to advance international understanding and world peace. In today’s world even a temporary Truce was an achievement for the international community. In 2016, Brazil would hold the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The international community should live up to its responsibility by observing the Truce. The Games could serve as an inspiration to reduce tension and build bridges in the world.
ABDERRAZZAK LAASSEL (Morocco), a co-sponsor of the draft resolution, said that since the dawn of civilization sport had made a major contribution to bringing countries closer together without regard for geographic borders or social class. Its role was immeasurable. During sporting events, human rights could be promoted, as could education and the rapprochement of cultures. Sport could also contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Morocco had a national sport programme which encouraged sport as part of daily life, extending access to it for all. The country had also created sport associations. Sport must be practiced by all without discrimination, including women and the disabled. Stereotypes should be eliminated. Sport encouraged friendship, goodwill and unity between people.
LIEW LI LIN (Singapore) said that her country had been pleased to co-sponsor the draft resolution, as sport brought many benefits to societies. It built social capital, inspired the human spirit, and brought people together, transcending differences. The Olympic Games were a source of inspiration for Singapore in building a strong sporting culture. The attributes of sport, namely tenacity, teamwork, and leadership, among other qualities, were more and more needed as the world became more globalized. The role of sport as an enabler of sustainable development had been recognized in the 2030 Agenda. As the United Nations and its Member States embarked on implementation of the resolution, the international community should harness the value of sport as an inspiration to aim higher and achieve development better.
KHALID BIN MOHAMED AL-ATTIYAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, said that the draft resolution before the Assembly made reference to sport as one of the enablers for sustainable development while recognizing the increasing contributions of sport in ensuring development and peace. In his country’s experience, sport promoted dialogue among civilizations. Qatar had adopted a national sport day, as a public holiday, whose aim was to dedicate and deepen the community’s support for and enlarge its participation in sports activities. The Assembly had addressed the issue of building a better world through the Olympic ideal.
NOEL KAGANDA (United Republic of Tanzania) said one of his country’s chief preoccupations, immediately after independence, was the restoration of some traditional sports, which served as a symbol of national pride. Games and sports such as archery, bao (mancala), wrestling, swimming, running, tug of war, javelin, stick fighting, rope skipping and oxen racing, present during pre-colonial Africa, had been either altered or eliminated for being perceived as either primitive or pro-pagan. The United Republic of Tanzania had ensured that all persons, irrespective of age, sex, religion or tribe, participated in sporting activities. Those activities were, and continued to be, conducted at primary, secondary and tertiary academic levels as well as in work environments, including through arrangements of the inter-ministerial sports organization. While very satisfied that the organizers had made every effort to involve persons with disabilities in the Paralympic Games, he was concerned with the unevenness of participation between developed and developing countries. It was imperative to build partnerships and enhance cooperation to bridge that gap. In addition, he was dismayed with the continued racism and xenophobic tendencies in sports, which ran counter to the spirit and principles of the United Nations Charter and the Olympics.
AMIT NARANG (India) said sports played an important role individually and socially. At an individual level, sport was directly linked to good health and helped build character. It helped motivate children and youth and helped them develop leadership skills and build partners. At the social level, sport inspired people and brought them together for a common purpose. Sport could help teach principles such as non-discrimination and equality, including gender equality, and human rights. India was pleased that the 2030 Agenda recognized the growing contribution of sport to development and peace since sport promoted tolerance and respect. Sport helped empower women and young people and individuals and communities. Sports, games and physical fitness had been an integral part of India’s heritage and were seen today in the highly evolved system of yoga and the wide range of indigenous games and martial arts practiced throughout the country. To meet the needs of its young people, the Indian Government was creating neighbourhood parks in cities. It also was building sporting spaces in public schools which had land space and then opening up those spaces to schools without adequate land space. In addition, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry was organizing the Seventh Global Sports Summit “TURF- 2015” in October in New Delhi, an international convention on sports business aimed to create a platform to bring together all stakeholders for developing a healthy sporting goods industry and promoting grassroots development of sports in India.
INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy), aligning with the European Union, and co-sponsoring the draft resolution, called for translating the commitment to sport for peace and development into reality. Italy applauded the message of the resolution that sport was a means of prevention and tolerance leading to lasting peace. It also commended the resolution for placing emphasis on vulnerable groups such as women and children and was proud to be part of the Group of Friends of Sport. Since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, sport had played a vital role in their achievement, and should become a powerful tool for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Secretary-General had said that sport was a world language, a common denominator among peoples. It was in that spirit that Italy wished Brazil good luck in holding the next Olympic Games.
MWABA PATRICIA KASESE-BOTA (Zambia) said the resolution was timely given the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the seventieth anniversary of the Organization. Sport played a role in the attainment of peace, dialogue and sustainable development. Zambia was a sport-loving country, and had included physical education in its education curriculum. Sport promoted harmony and was a unifier of people across political and religious affiliations. It was a crowd-pulling medium where the tackling of issues such as HIV/AIDS could be discussed at primary and secondary schools. The so-called “Go Sisters” programme in Zambia, which targeted girls aged 12 to 25, encouraged them to take on leadership roles by forming committees to lead education and sport programmes. Street children and those inflicted with HIV had been incorporated into the programme. Sport was also a viable and lucrative career for young people.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba) said that his country had traditionally been a co-sponsor of the draft resolution, and would continue to support efforts intended to promote sport as a way to promote development, peace and well-being. Cuba had emphasized the development of sport as a way of improving the quality of life for its population, which was one of most prominent achievements of the Cuban revolution. The practice of sport and physical fitness was extended throughout Cuba, he said, detailing a number of national sport and physical fitness programmes, among them programmes for the elderly, pregnant women and aerobics for women. All those achievements had been possible thanks to the Cuban Government and people, yet efforts to realize those goals fully had been blocked by the policy of the trade blockade against Cuba.
GUIDO CRILCHUK (Argentina), highlighting the crucial work Brazil was doing when organizing the 2016 Games in the countries’ region, said that much had been said about how sports could play a key role. The Olympic spirit showed how sport could help build a better world. There was recognition of the importance of sport in the 2030 Agenda. In the past decade, Argentina had worked on a concept of sport as a way to promote social inclusion. As members of the Assembly knew, Buenos Aires had been chosen for the holding of the third Olympic Youth Summer Games in 2018. By adopting the resolution before it, the Assembly continued sending a message of peace and goodwill to inhabitants of the world. Argentina called on everybody to observe the Olympic Truce.
IHOR YAREMENKO (Ukraine) said that the resolution noted the successful conclusion of the Sochi Winter Games. His delegation believed that directly contradicted the ancient Greek Olympic Truce. The Russian Federation had occupied Crimea, and still continued its occupation of his country, he said. In 2015, Ukraine regrettably was not among the co-sponsors of the resolution. Despite that, every success was wished to Brazil.
THOMAS BACH, President of the International Olympic Committee, said that the body’s Olympic Agenda 2020 was fully aligned with the United Nations 2030 Agenda, in particular, Goal 16 on building accountable, effective and inclusive institutions. The Committee had ensured compliance with the highest standards of good governance and transparency. Other major sports organizations should undertake necessary reforms to restore their reputation. “Sport is the only area of human existence that has achieved universal law,” he said. Regardless of where in the world sport was practiced, the rules were the same and applied to everyone. The fundamental principle of non-discrimination allowed sport to promote peace and understanding among all people.
Together with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Committee was assisting refugees around the world by giving them activities, hope and self-confidence through sport, he said. Former Committee President Jacques Rogge had been appointed as the United Nations Special Envoy on Youth Refugees and Sport in 2014. The Committee supported his activities financially and had additionally created a fund of $2 million to support refugees through sport. At present, none of those athletes would have the chance to compete in the Olympic Games as they had no home country to represent. However, the Committee had decided to invite the highest qualified refugee athletes to participate in the 2016 Games. Having no national flag to march behind and having no national anthem to be played, those refugee athletes would be welcomed to the Games with the Olympic flag and with the Olympic anthem.