TODAY -

Sports for peace and development

Ranjan K Baruah *

Yaoshang Sports Meet  at Kakwa, Bamon Leikai and Singjamei :: March 06 2018
Yaoshang Sports Meet at Kakwa, Bamon Leikai and Singjamei on March 06 2018 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



We are all aware of sports and its importance. It includes all forms of competitive physical activity or games which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants, and in some cases, entertainment for spectators. Sports are usually governed by a set of rules or customs, which serve to ensure fair competition, and allow consistent adjudication of the winner.

Sport has historically played an important role in all societies, be it in the form of competitive sport, physical activity or play. sport has been increasingly recognized and used as a low-cost and high-impact tool in humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts, not only by the United Nations system but also by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments, development agencies, sports federations, armed forces and the media.

Sport can no longer be considered a luxury within any society but is rather an important investment in the present and future, particularly in developing countries. In 2003, the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Sport for Development and Peace defined sport, for the purposes of development, as "all forms of physical activity that contribute to physical fitness, mental well-being and social interaction, such as play, recreation, organized or competitive sport, and indigenous sports and games."

This definition has since then been accepted by many proponents of Sport for Development and Peace. In 1978, UNESCO described sport and physical education as a "fundamental right for all". But until today, the right to play and sport has too often been ignored or disrespected.

Sport has a unique power to attract, mobilize and inspire. By its very nature, sport is about participation. It is about inclusion and citizenship. It stands for human values such as respect for the opponent, acceptance of binding rules, team-work and fairness, all of which are principles which are also contained in the Charter of the United Nations.

Sport is used to reach out to those most in need including refugees, child soldiers, victims of conflict and natural catastrophes, the impoverished, persons with disabilities, victims of racism, stigmatization and discrimination, persons living with HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Sport as a universal language can be a powerful tool to promote peace, tolerance and understanding by bringing people together across boundaries, cultures and religions. Its intrinsic values such as teamwork, fairness, discipline, respect for the opponent and the rules of the game are understood all over the world and can be harnessed in the advancement of solidarity, social cohesion and peaceful coexistence.

To raise awareness of this potential, 6 April was declared as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) by the UN General Assembly. The adoption of this Day signifies the increasing recognition by the UN of the positive influence that sport can have on the advancement of human rights, and social and economic development.

In its Resolution (A/RES/67/296) establishing the Day, the General Assembly "invites States, the United Nations system and, in particular, the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace, relevant international organizations, and international, regional and national sport organisations, civil society including, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, and all other relevant stakeholders to co-operate, observe and raise awareness of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace."

The United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP), based in Geneva and supported by a Liaison Office in New York, provides the entry point to the United Nations system with regard to Sport for Development and Peace, bringing the worlds of sport and development closer together.

There is no shadow of doubt that sport plays a significant role as a promoter of social integration and economic development in different geographical, cultural and political contexts. It is a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and networks, and to promote ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance and justice. Sports bring people together and help in unity and building civil society.

(With direct inputs from UN publication )


* Ranjan K Baruah wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be contacted at bkranjan(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on April 14, 2018.


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