4 November 2005
General Assembly Urges States to Observe Olympic Truce during Upcoming Winter Games in Italy, Use Sport as Tool for Development
NEW YORK, 3 November (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly urged Member States to observe the Olympic Truce during the upcoming Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, to be held in Turin, Italy, in February and March of next year, by one of four resolutions adopted today, without a vote.
Introducing the text on building a better world through sport and the Olympic ideal, Italy's representative said the resolution was true to the spirit of the Olympic Games, which were associated with peace from ancient times. The Olympic Truce was the modern expression of humanity's desire to build a world based on fair competition, humanity, reconciliation and tolerance.
By further terms of the resolution, Assembly called on States to use the Truce as an instrument to promote peace beyond the Games by implementing sports-related projects aimed at development.
The representative of China -- the host country for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games -- noted that sport was a bridge across culture gaps. He said preparations were under way in Beijing for the 2008 Games, with a view to ensuring a "green", high-tech and people-centred Olympics. The Beijing Games would enhance friendship among peoples of the world and promote dialogue and cultural exchange.
Introducing the text on sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace, Tunisia's representative said the benefits of sport was not limited to improving health and strength but extended to the acquisition of values for social development, the reinforcement of friendship, enriched dialogue and maintenance of contacts between races, cultures and civilizations. The resolution was aimed at promoting the Millennium Development Goals and the culture of peace. Among other things, the Assembly, in adopting that text, requested the Secretary-General to facilitate partnerships for the use of sport as a development tool.
With regard to a culture of peace, the Assembly adopted a text by which it encouraged relevant United Nations bodies to work with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote inter-religious dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, as well as on its activities related to a culture of peace.
By the terms of the fourth text, on the promotion of religious and cultural understanding, harmony and cooperation, the Assembly expressed its alarm that serious instances of intolerance and discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, including acts of violence, intimidation and coercion motivated by religious intolerance are on the increase worldwide and threaten the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In that connection, the Assembly encouraged Governments to promote, including through education, as well as the development of progressive curricula and text books, understanding, tolerance and friendship among human beings in all their diversity of religion, belief, culture and language. Introducing that text, Pakistan's representative said the world had to choose between a world of peace or one of conflict. Fear had to be replaced with acceptance and hatred with respect. Cooperation, and not the clash of civilizations, had to be the international community's collective endeavour.
At the outset of the discussion, Assembly President Jan Eliasson (Sweden) drew attention to the upcoming second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), to be held in Tunis from 16 to 18 November. Noting that world leaders in September had committed to building a people-centred, inclusive information society to enhance digital opportunities and bridge the digital divide, he called on Governments to deliver on the commitment, and to participate in the gathering at the highest level.
In other action today, the Assembly appointed Burundi, El Salvador, France, Lesotho, Malaysia, Philippines and Russian Federation to the Committee on Conferences for three-year terms beginning 1 January 2006.
Elected to the Committee for Programme and Coordination for three-year terms beginning 1 January 2006 were Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Pakistan, Portugal, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland and Uruguay.
Also, the Assembly elected to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council for four-year terms beginning 1 January 2006 the following countries: Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, China, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Czech Republic, Romania and Russian Federation.
In addition, the Assembly deferred consideration of the item on implementation of United Nations resolutions until its sixty-first session.
Statements were also made today by the representatives of Switzerland, United States, Egypt, Canada, Israel, Russian Federation, Greece, Chile and Qatar.
Venezuela's representative spoke in explanation of position following adoption of the texts.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 7 November, when five members of the International Court of Justice are expected to be elected.
The General Assembly met this morning to consider sport for peace and development, as well as a culture of peace. It was also expected to fill vacancies on a number of United Nations bodies.
Before the Assembly is a report by the Secretary-General on the International Year of Sport and Physical Education (document A/60/217). The report affirms that athletics are an excellent vehicle for promoting education, health, development and peace as part of the overall effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. During the year, activities on those themes were held in countries around the globe. In addition, the use of sport as a means to promote intercultural, post-conflict and peacebuilding dialogues was highlighted at many international conferences and events.
The International Year was launched with an extensive communications campaign, states the report. National committees were formed and encouraged to commemorate the International Year and provide examples of sport-related projects and programmes. Sports were also incorporated into the response to the December tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and United Nations agencies had developed activities ranging from fund-raising football games between athletes and singers in Italy to awareness-raising events connected to the XXVIII Olympic Games in Athens.
The overall goal of the International Year was to present undeniable proof that sport and physical education played a key role in the achievement of global development, and an important role at the national and global levels, contributing to economic and social growth peace and the environment.
By a draft resolution on sports as a means to promote education, health, development and peace (draft resolution A/60/L.7), the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to expand partnerships with Governments, sports organizations and the private sector to assess progress made towards making use of sport as an instrument of peace and development. It would also request that more efforts be made to generate support for sports programmes through public relations activities.
In addition, the Assembly would invite Member States to provide financial support for the United Nations New York Office of Sport for Peace and Development; invite Member States, the United Nations, sports organizations and others to promote sport and physical education through the renovation and building of sports facilities; and invite Governments and international sports organizations to assist developing countries financially, technically and logistically in capacity-building for sports and physical education. Further, it would invite Member States to adhere to the International Convention against Doping in Sport as soon as possible.
A draft resolution on building a better world through sport and the Olympic ideal (document A/60/L.15) would have the Assembly urge Member States to observe an Olympic Truce during the upcoming Winter Olympic Games, to be held in Turin, Italy, from 10 to 26 February 2006. The Assembly would also call on Member States to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee and other United Nations agencies and programmes to use the Truce as an instrument for promoting peace during and beyond the Games, and to implement projects using sport as a tool for development.
Regarding a culture of peace, the Assembly had before it a draft resolution on the promotion of inter-religious dialogue and cooperation for peace (document A/60/L.4/Rev.1), by which it would invite the Secretary-General to urge Governments and relevant regional and international organizations to continue to promote inter-religious dialogue, and to include information on the implementation of the present resolution in his report to the sixty-first session of the Assembly under the item "culture of peace".
The Assembly would also encourage relevant United Nations bodies to work with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote inter-religious dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, as well as on its activities related to a culture of peace.
A resolution on the promotion of religious and cultural understanding, harmony and cooperation (document A/60/L.10) would have the Assembly express its alarm that serious instances of intolerance and discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, including acts of violence, intimidation and coercion motivated by religious intolerance, are on the increase worldwide and threaten the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Also, the Assembly would encourage Governments to promote, including through education, as well as the development of progressive curricula and text books, understanding, tolerance and friendship among human beings in all their diversity of religion, belief, culture and language. It would encourage States to apply a gender perspective while doing so, in order to promote understanding, tolerance, peace and friendly relations among all nations and all racial and religious groups.
Also before the Assembly is a note by the Secretary-General on the election of 20 members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (document A/60/216), recalling that the Committee members are nominated by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and elected by the Assembly. Nominated to serve three-year terms beginning 1 January 2006 are: Benin, Central African Republic, Senegal and South Africa (from the African States); India, Indonesia, Iran and Pakistan (Asian States); Armenia, Belarus and Bulgaria (Eastern European States); Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Uruguay (Latin American and Caribbean States); and, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland (Western European and other States).
These members will replace those whose terms of office expire on 31 December: Argentina, Armenia, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Central African Republic, Cuba, Gabon, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Monaco, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Republic of Moldova, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.
For the Appointments to the Committee on Conferences, the Assembly has before it a note by the Secretary-General (document A/60/106), recalling that the 21 Committee members serve three-year terms, with one third of them retiring annually and the vacancies filled by appointment of the Assembly President. Retiring on 31 December are Bolivia, Congo, France, India, Japan, Russian Federation and Zambia.
World Summit on Information Society
Before the plenary began its discussion of sport for peace and development, Assembly President JAN ELIASSON (Sweden) said the upcoming second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), to be held in Tunis from 16 to
18 November, was an important event that would be a major addition to the series of high-level United Nations-led conferences held recently on economic and social issues.
He noted that in the outcome of September's World Summit, world leaders had committed themselves to "building a people-centred and inclusive information society so as to enhance digital opportunities for all people in order to help bridge the digital divide". In order to deliver on that commitment, he urged Governments to participate in the Information Summit at the highest level, and to complete negotiations on the preparatory work for the conference.
Sport for Peace and Development
Opening the plenary debate on sport for peace and development, Mr. ELIASSON said the Assembly had supported the revival of the ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic Truce for more than a decade. Drawing attention to the XX Winter Olympic Games, to be held in Turin, Italy, this coming February, he reminded everyone of the purpose of the Truce: to encourage a peaceful environment during the Games, ensure safe passage for athletes and others at the Games, and to mobilize the youth of the world to the cause for peace.
He went on to salute those around the world that had helped make the International Year of Sport and Education a success, including United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), sports stars and countless athletes and others that had joined in activities to mark the Year. Sport was essential for the well-being of young people, for example in refugee camps, not only for promoting health and education, but also as a vehicle for alerting them to the risks of HIV/AIDS, instilling self-respect and teamwork, and encouraging tolerance and peace. Sport was also vital for promoting equality and advancement for women and girls, especially when combined with education initiatives, giving them the opportunity to build self-confidence and encouraging them to stay in school.
Introduction of Drafts
ALDO MANTOVANI (Italy) introduced the draft resolution on building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal (A/60/L.15), which he said recognized the importance of sports in pursuing international development goals, including the Millennium Goals. He reviewed the main points of the resolution, including its call for the observation of the Olympic Truce during the Winter Olympic Games, to be held in his country, and during the subsequent para-Olympic Games in Turin early next year.
He said that since ancient times, the idea of the Olympic Games had been closely associated with that of peace. The spirit of the draft resolution was true to that origin, though it had been updated to address today's more pressing needs. The ancient tradition of the Olympic Truce was the modern expression of humanity's desire to build a world based on the rules of fair competition, humanity, reconciliation and tolerance.
ALI HACHANI (Tunisia), introducing the draft resolution on sports as a means to promote education, health, development and peace (A/60/L.7), said the benefits of sports were not limited to improving health and strength but also extended to the acquisition of values necessary for social development, the reinforcement of friendship, the enrichment of dialogue and the maintenance of contacts between races, cultures and civilizations. The resolution was conceived as a contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, to solidarity and cooperation, as well as to the diffusion of the culture of peace.
The draft invited institutions to strengthen the place of sport in the dissemination of peace, he noted. It also encouraged Governments to undertake partnerships with other countries for the promotion of sport. In addition, it underscored the importance of the International Year of Sport and Physical Education in promoting the understanding of the vital role that sports could play in development and peace. Sports played a key role in Tunisia's education system. His country was especially intent on teaching mutual understanding through the inclusion of sports in its educational curricula. It also hoped that sports could be particularly useful in promoting development in developing countries.
PETER MAURER (Switzerland) said there was a growing global consensus that sport could contribute to development, particularly the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Sport promoted development, peace and health. It was now necessary that all stakeholders agree to common goals and actions for the future, a solid foundation having been laid in the last two years. As a part of its contribution, Switzerland would host the second Magglingen Conference on Sport and Development, from 4 to 6 December, at which an evaluation would be done of the initiatives that had been taken with respect to sport.
He emphasized the need to increase advocacy and promotion of sport as an instrument of development and peace. Future plans were required for the use of sport to promote health, development and peace. The theme of the Magglingen Conference would be "Development through Sport: Moving to the Next Stage". There remained a question about how the United Nations would contribute financially to the promotion of sport. Switzerland believed that more use could be made of sport to promote development, even as steps were being taken to implement the Millennium Development Goals.
DUANE ACKLIE (United States) said international athletic competitions promoted understanding and respect for cultural diversity, fostered international partnerships, and increased awareness of global social issues, such as human rights, the role of women in society, and drug prevention. Moreover, such competitions generated a deep sense of national pride, while also fostering a spirit of international solidarity.
Expressing his support for the two draft resolutions presented, he said the United States particularly supported the request to undertake concrete actions to promote a culture of peace based on the spirit of the Olympic Truce. His country regarded the Olympics movement as a catalyst toward the virtues that President Bush ascribed to sports. For example, the United States Government, in partnership with the International Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Committee, assisted in training the Iraqi archery team, Iraqi wrestlers, boxers and a paralympian fencer to prepare them for the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece. The United States would continue to look for ways to use sport as a means of promoting intercultural, post-conflict and peacebuilding dialogues, he added.
MAI TAHA MOHAMED KHALIL (Egypt) said that sport and physical education were a part of Egypt's development efforts, as well as efforts to improve public health. Sport could also be helpful in the promotion of international peace. It was important to make young people aware of the utility of sport as a means of promoting good will, tolerance and understanding. Sport could also be useful in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. In Egypt, sport was integral to promoting good will and good sportsmanship. The increase in racism and racial discrimination in sport were disturbing, and contrary to the principles of the Olympics. Action must be taken to discourage such developments. Egypt was also concerned about the increase in doping in sport, and supported efforts to discourage and prevent doping.
XIE BOHUA (China) said that throughout its 60-year history, the United Nations had done much to promote the importance of sport, as well as to spread the Olympic spirit. With the joint efforts of the international community, sport had not only become a bridge for cultural exchange, mutual understanding and friendship among the world's people, but also played an important role in maintaining peace and promoting development. The modern Olympic ideal of "higher, faster, stronger", had surpassed the sports arena and become a spiritual rallying cry for all of mankind in the pursuit of happiness, prosperity and a harmonious world.
The Chinese Government and people appreciated the Olympic spirit and fully recognized the important role of sport for peace and development, he said, expressing his delegation's support for the draft resolutions under consideration by the Assembly. He also expressed support for the upcoming Turin Winter Olympics. Further, he told the Assembly that all preparations were under way in Beijing for the 2008 Summer Games, with a view to ensuring a "green", high-tech and people-centred Olympics. The Beijing Games would enhance friendship among peoples of the world and promote dialogue and cultural exchange.
NICHOLAS BROUSSEAU (Canada) said that in co-sponsoring the resolution put forward by Italy, Canada reinforced its long-standing recognition of sport as a vital ingredient in building sustainable communities, contributing to global peace, and encouraging healthy lives among youth. The power of sport to act as a positive catalyst for growth and change was evidenced through the efforts of countless humanitarian organizations that used sport as a tool to help reconstruct nations and heal individuals and communities following periods of conflict.
He encouraged Member States to recognize and support both the Olympic and Paralympic movements. A priority for Canada in designing the resolution was the recognition of the Paralympic movement's importance by extending the period of the Olympic Truce beyond the XX Olympic Winter Games in February to also include the Paralympic Winter Games the following month.
DAN GILLERMAN (Israel) said athletic competition provided an ideal medium to transcend national boundaries and fostered good will, better relations and mutual respect. The principles underlying athletic competition provided a channel through which people of different religions, cultures, races, and political backgrounds could interact and enhance their understanding of each other. The contribution sports could have in promoting development, education and health should not be underestimated.
In many cases, athletic competition had been a means to enhance relationships and build bridges, he continued. Qatar's contribution to building a soccer stadium in the Israeli municipality Sakhnin, where the local team was composed of Jewish and Arab Israeli players, was a welcome initiative and an opportunity to enhance relations on a people-to-people basis. Israel called on other countries in the region to replicate that gesture under the auspices of good sportsmanship.
Unfortunately, he said, not all athletic events were carried out with positive sentiments. Athletic competition could often be abused as a tool of politicization. At the Olympic Games in Athens, an Iranian judoka withdrew from the tournament, refusing to compete with an Israeli, according to Iran's official news service. A further contradiction of the important ideal to which the Olympics aspired was the manifestation of racism and anti-Semitism. When an athlete celebrated scoring a goal by invoking the Nazi salute, there was something terribly wrong. Athletic competition and intolerance simply contradicted each other.
BORIS CHERNENKO (Russian Federation) said it was necessary that there be no enmity in sport. It was clear that the Olympic ideals were more important than ever. Sport served as a beacon leading the way to peace without violence in the third millennium. Soon, the peaceful flame of the Olympics would be shining in Turin, Italy, during the Winter Olympics. Measures taken during the International Year of Sport had showed the usefulness of sport to promote peace and understanding. In a conference on "Sport and Peace" in Moscow in October, much had been accomplished, including the mapping out of future actions to be taken. Sport was a universal language of the planet. In sport, different cultures and beliefs were represented, and sport could be useful in the promotion of dialogue between civilizations.
ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece) said that with the notion of the traditional Olympic Truce in mind, his delegation would encourage others to envision the possibility that lasting peace could be created from a mere pause in hostilities. That was, in fact, how the Games had been conceived in the first place. Indeed, having been upheld for more than one millennium to allow athletes and spectators to travel safely from Olympic Games, the Truce was the longest "peace treaty" in history, he said. And while it was widely believed that new information and communication technology made it easier than ever to exchange ideas, in today's "modern Babel", misunderstandings prevailed. Therefore, the Olympic ideal could be a constructive new approach to conflict resolution.
"To teach sport to our children is to teach them the principles of the Olympic spirit. It is to teach them mutual understanding, friendship, solidarity and fair play, thus giving them the instruments to build a better future for themselves", he said. The United Nations and the Olympic Movement were natural allies, striving for the same goals of peace and understanding for the benefit of all peoples. And while Greece held no illusions, it simply stood by the obvious: "If we can have peace for 16 days, then maybe we can have it for ever."
ALFREDO LABBÉ (Chile) said that in the spirit of the outcome document of the September World Summit, his delegation supported the draft resolutions under consideration today. Chile indeed believed that sport and physical education were keys to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, as well as promoting national and international peace and cultural dialogue. Sport also allowed societies to witness and appreciate the achievements of humankind, as well as teamwork and the spirit of healthy competition. Chile also believed that the Olympic Ideal served to bring people together in the pursuit of tolerance and cultural exchange.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said sport contributed to physical education and the achievement of peace and development, especially human development. Sport should be promoted to safeguard relations among peoples, and there should be a collective framework created in which sport and physical education would create opportunities for solidarity, promoting the culture of peace, and enhancing social and gender equality, as well as dialogue and harmony.
Sport and physical education served as a means of achieving the internationally agreed development objectives, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, and the wider objectives of development, peace and security. Therefore, it was important to ensure poverty eradication and focus attention on promoting a culture of peace. The International Year of Sport and Physical Education upheld the importance of sport and allowed it to make a useful contribution to international partnerships, including with the private sector, international sports federations and non-governmental organizations.
Action on Drafts
The Assembly adopted, without a vote, the draft texts on sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace (A/60/L.7), and on building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal (A/60/L.15).
Speaking in explanation of position, ELEYDA GARCÍA-MATOS (Venezuela) said that while her delegation supported the Olympic ideal and the principle of sport for peace and development, it could not co-sponsor the drafts just adopted because they contained references to the outcome document of the 2005 World Summit, which held no obligations or mandate for the Venezuelan Government.
Introduction of Draft
RIAZ KHOKHAR (Pakistan) introduced the draft resolution on promotion of religious and cultural understanding, harmony and cooperation (A/60/L.10), saying that the item on culture of peace was reminiscent of the commitment made at the founding of the United Nations 60 years ago -- to promote tolerance, peace and social progress. Those principles were reaffirmed in the Millennium Declaration five years ago and again at the World Summit this year. The dawn of the new millennium witnessed a new era. Today's was a world of intensifying globalization and conflict. Growing disparities had precipitated new threats to peace and security.
There had been a decline in common principles, he said. The world had to choose between a world of peace or one of conflict. Fear had to be replaced with acceptance and hatred with respect. Cooperation, and not the clash of civilizations, had to be the international community's collective endeavour. All religions and cultures shared a collective set of beliefs and values. In an
effort to promote those shared goals and beliefs, Pakistan tabled the present resolution.
Action on Drafts
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution on promotion of religious and cultural understanding, harmony and cooperation (A/60/L.10), as well as the draft resolution on promotion of inter-religious dialogue and cooperation for peace (A/60/L.4/Rev.1).
Following action, Ms. GARCIA-MATOS (Venezuela), speaking in explanation of position, expressed her delegation's reservations to language in the just-adopted drafts pertaining to the outcome document of the 2005 World Summit.
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