Lessons learned from the latest peace efforts
Today, at the end of a week marked with peace-related events, I write these words with optimism. This week, three events have been taking place in different parts of the world that demonstrated peace is possible, even in the darkest moments.
Last week, I had an honor to attend the first ever global conference on faith and sport ‘Sport at the Service of Humanity’ that took place in the Vatican, hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture and with the support of the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The conference was focused on combining faith and sport together to inspire people to live according to the six principles: compassion, respect, love, enlightenment, balance and joy.
Sport and faith have much more in common than it seems at the first glance. First of all, both have the potential to transform people’s life. For most athletes, sport creates a sense of well-being and belonging, a feeling of control of their own lives, a strong sense of peace, self-awareness and calmness. A powerful sense that goes beyond the physical aspect, as it touches the deepest part of the human essence.
During the past event Pope Francis emphasized: “Challenge yourself in the game of life, as you do in the game of sport”, meaning that we must challenge ourselves to beat our personal best for the benefit of ourselves, but also for the wellbeing of others.
On another side, while the event in the Vatican was taking place, I learned that members of the Security Council, in a rare moment of unity, agreed to recommend Antonio Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister and head of the UNHCR refugee agency, as the next UN Secretary General. For many of us, this consensus is a prove that countries are able to work together towards the same goals and it is a role model in tackling with recent global challenges.
Lastly, the week ended up with the announcement of the Colombian president Juan Manual Santos as the Peace Nobel Prize laureate for 2016 “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end”. Colombia has not only set an example for future peace and reconciliation processes but also it has demonstrated that peace is indeed possible.
Colombia is one of the countries that has been actively using the values of sport as a catalyst for positive change. For years, a number of organizations have been working hard to make Colombia a safer and better place through sport. For example Colombianitos, an organization supported by Peace and Sport, has achieved great results in improving the quality of life of children, youth and their communities, including children who are victims of the Colombian armed conflict, through sport.
What did we learn from the last week’s events? Firstly, that through non-violent tactics and diplomatic approaches each of us can contribute to uphold peace in our own domains. Secondly, the nomination of Antonio Guterres showed us that a unity of countries working together with a vision, could achieve something tangible and viable. Thirdly, the Colombian context taught us that at the national level and in a context of intractable conflicts there is always path to reach agreements and consensus between adversaries. I finish these words with Pope Francis’ last week quote: “There is great beauty in the harmony of certain movements and in the power of teamwork”.