The seventh International Peace and Sport Forum organized by Peace and Sport took place in the Principality of Monaco between the 6th and 8th November, in Monte Carlo Bay Hotel. We were fortunate enough to participate in the Forum on Thursday and Friday morning plenary sessions, which turned out to be extremely interesting. The Peace and Sport Forum is held every year since 2007. It is a neutral platform for networking, exchange and dialogue. It is already a major event on the sporting, political and diplomatic agenda for sustainable peace and its idea is to expand every year.
The theme of the first plenary session on Thursday was “Sport, a peace-building tool at the service of governments”. The main themes were about how sport can be placed at the service of society, and be seen as an instrument of public policy. The moderator also asked the speakers about how governments can use sport as a vehicle for social cohesion. The session was started with keynote speaker H.E. Young Sam Ma, Ambassador for Public Diplomacy of the Republic of Korea, who spoke about the many sport initiatives the Government of Republic of Korea has initiated, many of them in co-operation with Peace and Sport Monaco, e.g. Table Tennis Tournament to bring both Koreas together in a friendly environment.
Moderator for the session was Brian Stoddard, Professor of Australia India Institute in the University of Melbourne. Speakers were Stanislas Frossard, Executive Secretary of Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS), H.E. Memli Krasniqi, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports of the Republic of Kosovo and H.E. Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Minister of Sports of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
The main point of the discussion concerned the role of sports in politics and if they can be separated or not. Speakers concluded that it is impossible to separate sports from politics, especially in developing environments. Memli Krasniqi also spoke a lot about the situation in Kosovo where their football clubs are not recognized by FIFA and UEFA and their national teams are not allowed to compete internationally, which has lead to the situation that their best players are now playing in the national teams of other countries, e.g. Germany, Sweden, Finland and Netherlands. Stanislas Frossard mentioned that this may be due to the situation of Kosovo and it not being recognized as an independent nation by all EU countries.
Thursday morning continued with another plenary session; “Adapted sports: a cornerstone of peace processes.” Adapted sporting practices represent an opportunity to take action while at the same time allowing for realities on the ground. The development of structured sporting activities alongside communities can foster lasting social integration. Moderator Jutta Engerhardt, who is Head of Sport & Development at the Swiss Academy for Development, led the discussion and asked the speakers how they can promote this approach so as to encourage recognition of its values among sporting authorities.
Keynote speaker was Robert Bayimagata, President of National Olympic Committee or Rwanda, and he shared insights of Rwandan approach to how they use the resources available in order to activate youth to become active in sports activities.
Other speakers were Abdel Malik El Hebil, Senior Manager of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Laurent Petrynka, National Director of the National School Sports Union (NSSU) and Bernard Lapasset, President of International Rugby Board (IRB). Discussion revolved a lot around what all of the speakers had been doing in their organizations and especially Laurent Petrynka shared lots of insights into what they had been doing with French school sport system in order to encourage young children to participate in sports more actively. He gave some theories and hints which itself cannot be transformed to be used in developing countries but certain aspects are certainly usable in any country wanting to involve school children in sports activities.
Friday morning started with a plenary session called “be an actor for peace”, which in our opinion was the most interesting one. It described how adapted sporting practices represent an opportunity to take action while at the same time allowing for realities on the ground. The development of structured sporting activities alongside communities can foster lasting social integration. The moderator Kate Robertson, who is co-founder of the youth forum One Young World and Global Co-President & UK Group Chairman of Havas Worldwide, asked the speakers how are they actors for peace in their own communities.
Keynote speaker Vittorio Brumotti, who is the Trial Bike World Champion and Champion for Peace and Sport, while riding his bike, gave a little speech about how he is helping his community to build peace with different sport activities and youth empowerment. Other speakers were Gene Gurkoff, Founder of Charity Miles, and John Marks, President of Search for Common Ground. They spoke about their respective organisations and their various activities and questions were asked about how NGO’s can survive in the times of recession. Gene Gurkoff made a good point about giving the companies reasons to support you financially, for example, explaining to them how their brand image is positively affected by being a partner and funder for some particular NGO.
Another session on Friday morning was called “Recommendations” and it was meant to gather all informatio and give some general recommendation. James M. Dorsey, Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University was acting as a moderator and other speakers were Minky Worden, Director of Global Initiatives & Human Rights Watch, Margaret Talbot, President of International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education, Brian Stoddart, Distinguished Fellow of Australia India institute in University of Melbourne and Kate Robertson. Main recommendations given were that we truly must act and empower other people to act in order to spread sustainable peace in the world. Human rights must be taken into account and everybody should have access to the sports, including women and girls. Social media is a very powerful tool and it should also be acknowledged while talking about these issues.
Later in the evening, we were invited to the 2013 Peace and Sport Awards Dinner at the Sporting Monte Carlo, hosted by H.S.H. Princess Charlene of Monaco. Over 700 delegates attended the event which saw the First Lady officially become an Ambassador of Peace and Sport, the international organisation patroned by her husband H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. Created in 2008, the annual Peace and Sport Awards reward organizations and individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to peace, dialogue and social stability in the world through sport. Award winners are nominated by a jury of eminent and independent personalities, deeply invested in peace-promotion or consolidation through sport. The ambience and the delectable food left us wanting more as the night drew to a close. Following is a list of the winners in each category.
Image of the Year, supported by AFP: A Day for Peace through Sport
Champion of the Year: Sébastien Bouche
Sport Event of the Year: Gol Iluminado Foundation
Sports Federation of the Year: Confédération de football d’Océanie
Corporate Initiative of the Year: Ferrero France
Non-Governmental Organization of the Year: Play31
Special Jury Prize: Sport 4 peaceful election
Adapted Program of the Year: N’Tola Sarama Association
Sunday, 10th of November: The day of the 6th edition of the French Riviera Nice – Cannes marathon which takes place on the seaside route along the stunning and varied landscape offering an incredible running experience over 42 .195 km from Nice to Cannes. Thousands of people pushed their limits and ran either the full marathon, half a marathon or completed the distance in a relay team. Three days prior to the event, the Marathon Expo was held on the Promenade de Anglais in Nice. An estimate of 30,000 people visited the village this year, with Saturday being the busiest day of all. Peace and Sport Organization was the charity partner of the event and had a booth in the village. We were asked to help out on Friday and Saturday, talking to people about the organization ‘Peace and Sport’ and making them more aware. This year’s runners had the opportunity to win a t-shirt signed by Paula Radcliff, Wilson Kipketer and Venust Niyongabo, all three Champions of Peace for the organization. On Saturday morning Wilson Kipketer, Vénuste Niyongabo and Kaveh Mehrabi came by to take pictures with fans and then participated in the Breakfast Jog. The day ended on a pretty hectic, albeit enlightening, note when Paula Radcliffe joined the booth for a signing session. It was amazing to hear runners talking about how the athletes inspired them to reach their own goals and go the distance. Taken all together, those few days were very successful, not only making people more aware about the Peace and Sport organization and its work in the field, but it was also a memorable experience for us.
We can conclude by saying that this week was one filled with vivid memories and unforgettable experiences. The Forum was extremely interesting and useful for use in many aspects; we learned a lot about World’s leading peace and sport leaders and were able to network with many interesting and influential people. The Gala dinner and Awards ceremony was nothing short of a spectacle as we were treated like royalty. Finally, the days spent at the Peace and Sport booth gave us a chance to interact with legendary Olympic athletes and gave us an insight into the functioning of the foundation. We truly want to thank the Peace & Sport Organisation for providing us with this fantastic experience and we look forward to more of such future endeavours.
Reported by Jenna Toivakka, Renalda Riezebos, Fidel Saba, current Master in Sustainable Peace through Sport Students
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