First International Day Of Sport Fosters Peacebuilding, Development

Yesterday was the first annual United Nations International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. Officially declared in August 2013, the UN hopes to foster mutual understanding and positive social change that will transcend dividing factors in culture, language, gender, geography, and ability through the most popular global medium of all: sport.

“Sport has become a world language, a common denominator that breaks down all the walls, all the barriers. It is a worldwide industry whose practices can have widespread impact.”

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

Why is sport so important to international relations and building peace? The UN cites the following official reasons for incorporating sports into its initiatives:

The power to improve physical and mental health,

…enhance life skills of children and youth,

…include everyone regardless of abilities,

…advance gender equality,

…and promote respect and dialogue

“[Sport] has the capacity to empower individuals and bring one’s moral values to the forefront…It can play a strategic role in transferring life skills and communicating useful and encouraging messages on important issues, thus driving social change.”

Wilfried Lemke, UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace

Sport has the enormous potential to empower and motivate the individual, the community, the nation, and the World for greater things. But it is important to note that sport can just as easily be a mode of division as it can be of unity. As is commonly misunderstood, sport does not necessarily cause the anger and unrest competition might negatively culminate; rather it is has been used as an outlet for those frustrated by unfair circumstances or suppressed rights as seen last summer in the tragic death of two Brazilians after a soccer-related incident.

The push to use sport as a channel for development and peace is a step in the way of eliminating the very thing it fights against.

Cover image via Sports Doing Good


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