Opinion

Joël Bouzou
Peace and Sport President and Founder

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20/11/2015 par Joël Bouzou

Learning from yesterday, united in building tomorrow

The world is changing fast, yet conscious of the cost of violence the trap is to invest more in warfare than in structured peace-building actions. Have we not learnt from a long history of human suffering? Where are the real investments, the commitments for change, where is the action?

 

Today again, I join families around the world in mourning civilians following recent atrocities in Beirut and Paris. Indeed, I remain shocked and condemn all attacks on civilians everywhere. Yet I am writing here about the future: we need to learn from these events and see them as a warning sign that threatens global peace and security in order to finally start investing seriously in action towards building peaceful integrated communities. Today, as we mourn, we also need to consider the importance and impact of how we as an international community react.

 

In our despair we must keep sight of the bigger picture. To use the tragic examples of Paris and Beirut, the targeting of public and social places, cafés, terraces, concert halls and stadiums fit the goals of the Islamic State (ISIS) who has claimed responsibility for the attacks. These are cultural spaces in which a population rich in diversity is united. As ISIS looks to grow its pool of prospects their goal is to polarize communities, aggravate social tensions and drive the marginalized further into the margins.

 

What are we to do? We as members of civil society must react, through action. We must wage war on discrimination and marginalization at home. The struggle against what ISIS represents requires as much work in Syria as in the bleak outskirt towns of French cities and neighbourhoods in Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt which act as a breeding ground for jihadist foreign fighters. We need to collaborate and work with these nations which are part of the solution rather than treat them as part of the problem.

 

As civil society we can observe what is happening and try to understand why it is happening, we can voice, we can debate, we can call for action and we can act for change. Instead of feeding the cycle of violence, strong from over fourteen years of war on terror, one way would be for us to start by cutting the source of militants coming from our homes.

 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there is the possibility to build dialogue, unity and understanding through action. Let us invest in building structural changes, conflict transformation and a united community. Sport can help make this happen, because sport is global and because sport is neutral.

 

Everyone has a part to play in this action. For me, it is through the promotion of sport as tool that I chose to act. Since I founded Peace and Sport we have been acting to use the structural values that sport can offer to create the necessary conditions for sustainable peace. We were already proving 20 years ago through concrete, reasoned actions that the use of structured sport can change lives; that we can help steer the future of many marginalized young persons and bring them back as an integral part of society. Why is this solution not gaining more recognition, not taken seriously enough or implemented everywhere? Because it does not bring immediate effect? Because it requires substantial investment? In fact today there is no time left, today there is no choice. Today this investment has become crucial.

I hope you will join me in Monaco next week, for this call for action and consider the untapped potential of a collective investment in building peace through sport.

Our gathering will open with a Peace Walk and continue through to tackle tough topics for which we need your deep reflection and proposals for concrete actions. The peace through sport movement can help bring peace and reconciliation by using sport as a medium for dialogue between people and communities, so please join us in bringing about constructive and pragmatic change.

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