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Replacing the UNOSDP with IOC Commission may strengthen SDP sector

Copyrights: Flickr: Dimitra Tzanos

Replacing the UNOSDP with IOC Commission may strengthen SDP sector

Norman Brook reviews changes at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the formation of the Public Affairs and Social Development through Sport Commission and Department. Can these developments mainstream sport for development in traditional sports structures and increase the reach of the sport for development and peace movement?

There seems to be quite some concern in Sport for Development and Peace circles that UN Secretary-General António Guterres has announced that the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) has closed. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan created the UNOSDP, appointing the first Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace Adolf Ogi in February 2001. Wilfried Lemke was appointed as the 2nd Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace by Ban Ki Moon. Lemke stepped down at the end of 2016 and many had been awaiting to learn whom Guterres would appoint as his special advisor.

The decision not to appoint a special advisor and to close down the UNOSDP would appear to be linked to an increasing partnership between the United Nations (UN) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The Secretary-General has agreed with the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, to establish a direct partnership between the UN and the International Olympic Committee. Accordingly, it was decided to close the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP).”

The IOC was granted observer status by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2009 giving it the possibility of attending all UN General Assembly meetings where it can take the floor and promote sport. In addition to its 193 member states, the UN General Assembly may grant observer status to an international organisation, entity or non-member state, which entitles the entity to participate in the work of the UN General Assembly, though with limitations.

In 2015, a historic moment for sport and the IOC, sport was officially recognised as an “important enabler” of sustainable development and included in the United Nations 2030 Agenda. IOC President Thomas Bach was invited to speak at the launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals where he described sport as a natural partner for the realisation of the 2030 Agenda.

Paragraph 37 of “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” reads: “Sport is also an important enabler of sustainable development. We recognise the growing contribution of sport to the realisation of development and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect and the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives.”

More recently the IOC has appointed Philip French as Director of its Public Affairs and Social Development through Sport Department and formed a Commission for Public Affairs and Social Development through Sport (formerly the International Relations Commission) lead by Mario Pescante to advise the IOC Session, Executive Board and President on strategies to promote the role of sport and Olympism in society and to position the IOC as a thought leader and a strong actor on the international stage around sport for development and peace in and beyond the Games. In doing so the stage was set for this commission to take over the role of the former Special Advisor and UNOSDP.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 14:59