In a polarized world, sport can create social ties
Her Excellency Isabelle Picco is Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Monaco to the United Nations and Co-Chair of the Group of Friends of Sport for Development and Peace (GASDP). Her commitment as co-chair of the Group since 2010 makes the Mission of Monaco a particularly recognized actor in this field. In this WATCH, H.E. Isabelle Picco discusses the growing recognition of the contribution of sport in the documents adopted by the UN and the 10th anniversary of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP).
Since its admission to the UN 30 years ago, the Principality of Monaco has consistently emphasized the importance of sport in achieving the objectives of peace, economic and social development, and sustainability. Several measures taken by Monaco marked the beginning of the Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) movement.
As early as 1993, the first resolutions co-sponsored by Monaco after its admission as a member state were the first General Assembly resolutions on sport, entitled “International Year of Sport and the Olympic Ideal” (held in 1994) and “Respect for the Olympic Truce”, presented by Egypt on behalf of the African Group, in the presence of H.S.H. Crown Prince Albert and representatives of the International Olympic Committee.
In 2001, sport received further recognition through the appointment by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, of a Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace and the creation of a Geneva-based Office, which relied on the support of GASDP for twelve years from 2005 to 2017.
The year 2013 marks another significant turning point in the recognition of the transformative power of sport. At the request of the President of the UN General Assembly, Vuk Jeremić, Monaco presents the resolution that proclaims the JISDP on behalf of the 69 co-sponsors. The resolution is adopted in the presence of former IOC President Jacques Rogge, UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremić, and professional tennis player Novak Djokovic.
Two years later, in 2015, Sport for Development and Peace achieved an important breakthrough as it was included in the political declaration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Step by step, the SDP movement has grown and structured. So much so that when in 2017, Secretary General Antonio Guterres decided to close the office of the Special Advisor, the work continued. The Group of Friends strengthened its ambition to promote the power of sport within the UN work. Since then, we have been working closely with the UN Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD), which has taken over the substantive mandate on the SDP.
In 2023, the 10-year celebration of the International Day at the UN Headquarters filled the room. As Co-Chair of the Panel, it is a great satisfaction to see that the panelists are now demonstrating the results of their programs in a tangible way. I know that they represent a whole community active in the world and I am happy to see how much the SDP actors are committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda.
I agree with Peace and Sport on the need to listen to and take into account the needs expressed by project leaders in the field. This is why I was so impressed by the speech given by the President of the Moroccan NGO Tibu Africa, a member of Peace and Sport’s Peacemakers Project. Amine Zariat not only emphasized the social dimension of sport but also its crucial role in the economic development of a country, stressing out that civil society can become a key partner in the implementation of government policy.
Today, we have demonstrated that, in a polarized world, sport can create social ties. It remains an independent and apolitical tool. We have a responsibility to multiply partnerships and to continue to work towards the achievement of SDG 17 so that more financial resources are allocated to sport-based programs for development and the building of peaceful societies around the world.
A pioneer, the President and Founder of Peace and Sport, Joël Bouzou, has himself experienced the acceptance of difference through sport through his experience as a professional athlete and Olympic medalist. This vision, which was at the origin of the creation of Peace and Sport, has now become a matter of course.