TODAY -

Sports for peace and sustainable development

Ranjan K Baruah *



Uniting people under one platform or one place is important if we need peace and development in society. There are difference amongst people and countries. One of the strongest tools which bring people together from different background and unite them together is none other than sports.

Sport has historically played an important role in all societies, be it in the form of competitive sport, physical activity or play. Games and sports have always united people together and one of the best examples is Olympic Games or any other international events.

International organisation like United Nations have advocated for sports for peace and development and it has incorporates sport into various programme and in UN system. The right of access to, and participation in, sport and play has long been recognised in a number of international conventions.

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 is a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and networks, and to promote ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance and justice. We have seen the power of sports in conflict zones where even friendly football match or others brings community together for talks and negotiations.

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.

Sport programmes permit encounters on neutral territory and in an environment where aggression can be controlled, regulated and transformed and hence facilitates rapprochement and reconciliation between opposing parties.

We must remember that although sport alone cannot stop or solve an acute conflict, it represents a flexible and cost-effective medium for post-conflict relief work and peace building as well as conflict prevention.

Sport has proven to be a cost-effective and flexible tool in promoting peace and development objectives. Since the inception of the MDGs in 2000, sport has played a vital role in enhancing each of the eight goals, a fact which has been recognized in numerous Resolutions of the General Assembly.

In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sport’s role for social progress is further acknowledged. Due to its vast reach, unparalleled popularity and foundation of positive values, sport is ideally positioned to contribute towards the United Nations’ objectives for development and peace.

Like many other international days or events sports has also a day to celebrate apart from other events and 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.

“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 regards to Sport for Development and Peace, bringing the worlds of sport and development closer together. The Office assists the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace in his diverse activities worldwide as an advocate, facilitator and representative of sports’ social impact in a development context.”

Different events and programmes are being held connected with this day. As we have realised the importance of sports, so, it’s time to promote and encourage sports for peace building and sustainable development.

The practice of sport is a recognized instrument for promoting peace, as it disregards both geographical borders and social classes. It also plays a significant role as a promoter of social integration and economic development in different geographical, cultural and political contexts.

There is no doubt that sport is a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and networks, and to promote ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance and justice. Tackling problems in post conflict situations can be eased as sport has the ability to bring people together.

In its efforts to use sport as a catalyst for peace and development we have to make plan and execute them. Different organisations are focussing in on this but we can start more organisations or enterprises which uses sports as tool for peace and sustainable development.


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 webcasted on April 07, 2019.



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