Berlin, Germany

28 May 2013

Secretary-General's Message to Fifth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport [Delivered by his Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Mr. Wilfried Lemke]

I am pleased to send greetings to all participants at the International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport. 
I thank the organizers for convening this important gathering, and Germany for hosting.

Sport, physical activity and play are outstanding tools to support peace and development, integrate marginalized and disadvantaged groups, promote gender equality and foster a more inclusive society for persons with disabilities.

We have a collective responsibility to ensure that all people, regardless of gender, race, religion, ability or age, have the right to practice and play in safe environments free of stigma and prejudice.

Children and youth, especially girls, deserve to engage in sports under safe conditions.  Adults can act as role models by using sport to promote democratic values and principles such as fair play, inclusion and dedication to the common good.

I have seen the positive value of sport in my travels around the world.  At the same time, I am disturbed by incidents of harmful actions, such as violence, racism, cheating and match-fixing, that threaten to undermine the positive values and credibility of sport.  We must work together to address these challenges.

Earlier this year, the United Nations marked the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by highlighting the issue of racism in sport.  I hope we can give even greater meaning to this initiative by encouraging sport governing bodies to intensify their efforts to eradicate all forms of discrimination.

Your discussions on the challenges facing sport and your work to optimize its many benefits can support the broader work of the United Nations to advance peace, development and human rights.

In this spirit, I wish you great success.