The Olympic truce resolution: Sport, the 'quiet diplomat' of peace

By John Rankin

Monday, October 17, 2011 was a historic day. The first record of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was established. On October 17, the resolution on 'Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal' - better known as the Olympic Truce resolution - was adopted by consensus in the General Assembly. The entire United Nations membership of 193 countries cosponsored the resolution, which urges states to observe the Olympic Truce through the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and highlights the role of sport in promoting conflict resolution, peace building and development. Never in the history of the United Nations has a resolution attracted so much support.

Introducing the resolution to the General Assembly, Lord Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, noted the role of sport as a 'quiet diplomat' in the arena of conflict resolution and peace building. This idea resonates around the world. Sport can help to build communities, encourage teamwork and strengthen character and understanding. But above all else, it has an ability to bring people together and to give them a common language. For this reason, sport is a powerful tool in tackling the root causes of conflict in any country.

This has been recognised by societies for ages past. The "Olympic Truce" itself has a long history. Established in the 9th century BC, it was designed to assure that athletes, artists and their families - as well as ordinary pilgrims - could travel in complete safety to participate in or attend the Olympic games of Ancient Greece, regardless of their nationality or any disputes between communities and countries.
Today the Olympic ideal gives us an opportunity to talk about the ways in which sport can bring humanity out of war. Growing up in the UK you often hear the story of British and German soldiers emerging from the trenches of world war one to play a game of football in no man's land one Christmas night.
And in modern times, too, sport has helped to achieve a positive change amidst conflict. Football for Peace is a sport-based co-existence project, for Jewish and Arab children, organised by the University of Brighton in partnership with the British Council. It began with 100 families in 2001. Today, the programme in Israel involves 24 mixed communities with over 1,000 children. Even better, it has spread its influence to other conflict affected areas. The programme also operates in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It uses football to bring together children from both sides of the border, regardless of background and religion.

Here in Sri Lanka, sport is also playing a role in helping to establish lasting peace. Cricket for Change is a UK-based charity which uses the game of cricket as a vehicle for developing the confidence and aspirations of young people and through them, enriching the communities in which they live. In March 2010 - nearly a year after the end of the battle against the LTTE - this programme worked with a group of 24 former child combatants, both boys and girls, training them to become "Ambassadors of Cricket", making a positive change in their communities after they return to their families and villages.
The Olympic record set on 17 October should be a sign of hope and support for the enduring values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Olympic Truce. This resolution comes, however, against a backdrop of violence and conflict in many parts of the world. We should use this moment as an opportunity to reflect on the things that bring people together, and overcome the differences and hatred created by conflict. As the FCO Minister for the UN and Conflict Resolution, Henry Belllingham, said, "No one claims that conflict resolution is easy, but in line with the ideals of the Olympic Truce, we are committed to preventing and resolving conflict wherever we can in pursuit of long-term peace and stability around the world."

The writer is British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka

Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Other News Articles
India in visa row with Lanka
Rajapaksa leaves on Tuesday for Commonwealth summit
Printing errors: Census put off
US revives GSP but another hurdle remains
CEB wants to increase rates
Alleged threat to dissident member: Tilvin summoned to police
Lanka will work with new Libya
Public seminar on Govt.’s new Property laws
Ancient A’pura temple restored and open to worshippers
"The Cedar tree has been felled but the fragrance lingers"
The Olympic truce resolution: Sport, the 'quiet diplomat' of peace
Shocking reports of alleged rapes within 24 hours
Snares are latest weapon in relentless man-beast conflict
Sources tightlipped on SEC chief Malik Cader’s status
Now Trinco-Batti road journey sans ferries
Beauty may be skin deep, but beauty treatments can be harmful, even kill
Excerpts from the Speeches made during the debate on the Motion on the Breakdown of Law & Order
Excerpts from the speeches made during a debate on an adjournment motion on issues affecting the North and East
A family’s heartburn after dengue robs them of teenage daughter
Racket of ‘seizing’ Defender jeeps at gunpoint busted Gang operated security firm as front
Fresh criteria for new Grama Sevaka Divisions: Delimitation Committee
Midwives, nurses in battle for labour rooms in state hospitals
Court frees visa overstayer seeking US asylum
Jail for five LTTE fundraisers in Netherlands
The case based on evidence of The Leader Editor was not reliable: Defence
News in brief
Lunch cooked, packed under unhygienic conditions 9-hours before mealtime
Interventional Radiology Unit suffers seizure, prognosis unknown
  Mulleriyawa incident: Conflicting evidence given by witnesses
I’m not against beautification of Colombo, but it must be for all not some: Muzammil
How the Western Province probation service functions
Everyone’s baby but nobody’s child
Central PC calls for urgent improvments at Kandy Teaching Hospital
Fined for making threats over phone
Educate road users: Magistrate


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 1996 - 2011 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved | Site best viewed in IE ver 8.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution