UN calls for a two-week Olympic Truce for all those at war during the Olympics.
UN calls for a two-week Olympic Truce for all those at war during the Olympics.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, together with the General Assembly is requesting all parties at war to observe the traditional 'Olympic Truce' during the Beijing Olympic Games.
Read the full article here
In a way, the UN's support of the Olympic truce is an important step in drawing people's attention to the link between the Olympics and the tremendous political and social power the Olympic games has worldwide.
Of course, one could always argue 'what's the point' if this truce basically allows hostilities to resume after a couple of weeks. I'd be interested to know if interested parties really CAN (or will?) take stock of the cost and damage caused by war during the two-week truce.
Sorry to admit I'm a cynic when it comes to the Olympic truce concept
There is no reason why a truce could not allow enemies to 'reconsider the heavy cost of war, as well as an opening to initiate a dialogue and a window to provide relief for suffering populations'.
However, it could equally provide an opportunity for armed groups to regroup and restock their armouries. Furthermore, it seems unrealistic to think that the complex and often lengthy task of peace negotiations should follow an articifical timetable dictated by the Olympics, rather than one which takes into account the situations of the warring parties in question.
Finally, it seems a bit naive to ask people who may perceive themselves as fighting for their lives/independance to stop warring so we can all feel good about ourselves, without actually helping the sides to bridge whatever divide they find themselves up against.
The Olypic Truce was originally intended to allow people to travel to the games safely. Armies could not enter the area and legal disputes & executions were suspended. But once the games were finished all these activities picked up where they left off. So the truce was not aimed at helping peace, but in assisting the games organisers to run a succesful event. Whilst the current organisers make noises that the truce they want can help the cause of peace, I think it is more credible that it will simply help the organisers of the Games... to feel good about themselves. But this self congratulatory back-slapping won't do much to help the Palestinians, Israelis, Pakistanis, Indians, Sri Lankans etc etc.
The Olympic truce is 'Peace Light'; lacking in substance and a sense of realism.
I believe this is a good step forward. Sport in general has an electrifying power to unite vast majority of people, and especially also touching the lives of warring factions. For example, the West African state of Ivory Coast qualified for their first ever World Cup finals in 2006 and this success culminated in temporarily bringing the ongoing disturbances in the country on a hold. Practically, my main concern now, with regards to the Olympic Truce, is what can/will really inspire those who at war to "lay down their weapons, if only temporarily," especially if their country does not have any representative at the Olympic games, something that could have made a difference? It will be great to see warring parties to observe the traditional Olympic Truce, and that is my hope, while also hoping it can bring something meaningful into their lives, rather than just keep fighting.
As an aside to this debate I found it interesting that the Georgian attacks were apparently timed in order to coincide with the opening of the Olympics, in the hope that Putin would be too busy munching on a prawn sandwich to do much about them. Bizarre logic, but there you go.
So we've actually witnessed the exact opposite effect that the Olypic organisers were hoping for. Shame.
Like Jessica said, sport can either bring about positive changes or negative ones. Sport can either serve to reinforce, reflect or resist societal norms depending on the context. Thus, sport can be use to propagate peace or war (violence); order or disorder; and capitalism or socialism depending on who manages the tool. However, i strongly believe that as a tool in the hands of a 'peacebuilder', sport can - if well designed - fill a gap in the peacebuilding process.
Some interesting debate and viewpoints so far regarding the Olympic Truce.
I'd like to respond to Jonathan Lea-Howarth's quite cynical arguement about the intent of the Olympic Truce and is impact.
I agree to some extent and if you look at the Olympic Truce's over the past decades, they sound very similar.
Without sounding like I'm defending the IOC here, but how much are we holding them accountable for world peace? The Olympic Truce is more like a declaration of peace and, like sport, it can be used as tool for positive or negative effects as mentioned in previous comments in this dicsussion forum.
Other IOC initiatives like the introduction of Olympic Aid after the Lillehammer games, have made much more progress on the ground to harness the power of sport to promote peace. Let's focus this discussion on the potential of sport to foster peace and conflict resolution. Like Jonathan says the Olympic Games are about delivering a sporting event but how can "we" harness that momentum for social change to prevent situations like the recent conflict in Georgia? Are "we" expecting too much from sport and should conflict resolution be left to the UN top-level negotiators rather than introducing some football matches...and importantly, who should take responsibility for action?
Fully agree with the comments of Jackie Lauff: "Let's focus this discussion on the potential of sport to foster peace and conflict resolution" and the CNVLD add " and the need to concentrate on moving forwards to ensure (and support) sports development at the grass roots level where it is most needed and where it is most effective as a catalyst for positive social change and to foster civil society"...
- with best regards from a wet season Phnom Penh !
So far in this discussion, we've heard from Cambodia and Namibia.
I'm interested to hear some more details about how politics affects your work at the grassroots level. Have you developed close relationships with local and national governments? What type of struggles are people facing in different countries in delivering sport and development projects?
Pleased to list a few points about the CNVLD, our cooperation with the Cambodian government and our ongoing focus on grass roots development.
The CNVLD Program works in cooperation with the Physical, Medical and Landmine Rehabilitation sector organizations of Cambodia including the location of CNVLD Sports teams at disability rehabilitation Centers throughout Cambodia and a partnership of cooperation with the Disability Action Council (DAC). The CNVLD is endorsed by, and works in cooperation with, the Royal Government of Cambodia: Ministry of Social Action, Labour, Vocational Training and Youth Affairs ( MOSAVY).
There is an excellent cooperation between MOSAVY and CNVLD, allowing the very smooth facilitation of the establishment of new sports clubs on a local basis – All CNVLD Wheelchair Volleyball league clubs formally linked with their respective MOSAVY Provincial offices.
This cooperation between the CNVLD and the Government of Cambodia has been so successful that the Prime Minister of Cambodia Samdech Hun Sen became the official patron of the CNVLD in 2006.
All CNVLD programs are implemented with the assistance of qualified foreign technical advisors with a focus on Training the Trainers in order to ensure long term sustainability and that all aspects of CNVLD programs are managed by Cambodians for Cambodians with a Disability.
CNVLD athletes are required to commit significant voluntary time to the program. This policy is in order to facilitate an understanding of how important the input of voluntary activity is to a nation’s development and to disencourage athletes who are only participating in sport when financial support is available.
In addition, the CNVLD is one of the very few NGO’s that strives towards international standard financial transparency at all times, including an annual independent audit by KPMG and financial advisory assistance via ANZ Royal, a subsidiary of one of Australia’s largest banks.
The CNVLD expends 80 % of its annual budget as direct assistance for the athletes with a disability of Cambodia – Holding to this equation , which is rare in the INGO / NGO world, is the true reason for the ongoing internationally recognised success of the CNVLD: A majority investment, made at the grass roots level, directly to the athletes with a disability of Cambodia
It sounds like you have established really close ties at different levels of government.
I think it's really impressive that you have managed to build up such strong rapport and having the Prime Minister as a patron is for sure a feather in CNVLD's cap!
Without prying too much into your budget, but since you mentioned it below, does the government provide funding for CNVLD's programmes?
...and I'm assuming this is Chris Minko from the video??? It's a shame standing volleyball is no longer a Paralympic sport!
Sorry – yes – that happens to me in the Video! – Ouch !
Down to your important points:
Reference the Cambodian Government: Acknowledging that Cambodia is still one of the poorest nations in the world, whilst we have an excellent cooperation with the Cambodian Government, this does not involve funding support at this point as the nation is still dealing with essential infrastructure and other pressing national issues as part of the recovery process after over 30 years of war and civil conflict. However the government does make every effort to provide the CNVLD with in-kind support ranging from the provision of a government advisor to the CNVLD to assist with the processing of Government and public authority requirements related to sporting events and free usage of Government owned sporting facilities along with the important moral support of the Prime Minister.
Reference Standing Volleyball and its unwarranted removal from the Paralympic Program – On this issue, the CNVLD has much to say:
Unfortunately the IPC is no longer just an event of superb elite level sports, the IPC, has by definition, become an elitist organisation catering primarily to the disability sporting needs of the developed nations with, at its best, a tokenistic representation of participation by the developing nations. In addition, the IPC fails to recognize international disability demographics, with, unfortunately, the greatest cause of disability at the moment, being the landmine, unexplored ordnance and the tragic consequences of war and civil conflict.
Standing Volleyball is recognised as an ideal and very cost effective sport for amputees and others who wish to standup and play their sport however we face an uphill battle to have the sport reinstated in the Paralympic Program as it is far more difficult for developing nations to meet the criteria for Paralympic Sports than it is for the developed nations who have the capital to invest in their sports development in order to meet the Paralympic sports criteria – an excellent example of how this works is the recent introduction of rowing and equestrian events into the Paralympic program, two of the most elitist and most expensive sporting events in the world – Off course it was easy for 14 developed nations to get together and quickly meet the criteria for inclusion within the games as the bottom-line is $ for the development of a sport and that is a much easier process for a developed nation (or group of developed) nations) than for a developing nation (or nations) that is (are) often struggling to fund its basic infrastructure needs as it struggles to finds a place within the global community.
In fact, the CNVLD is currently considering a recent offer from a leading international lawyer who has offered his services, pro bono, in order to sue the IPC for discrimination against the developing nations as the criteria for being recognised as a Paralympic Sport is clearly biased towards the developed nations.
Unfortunately Standing Volleyball members are also obliged to have membership of the WOVD, again a problem area, as the WOVD do not support the development of Standing Volleyball and have focused their energies on Sitting Volleyball to the detriment of Standing Volleyball – There are many amputees, landmine survivors + PWD’s around the world who simply wish to stand up and play real volleyball and not sit when they can stand. At a recent meeting, the WOVD president declared that Standing is a dead sport – Cambodia and many other standing nations dispute this publicly however it makes the whole process even more difficult when our great sport of standing doesnt even receive any support from the WOVD (who, as a world sport governing body are supposed to represent the needs of their member nations !) despite the internationally recognised success of the Cambodian model and clear recognition of the rehabilitative benefits of Standing Volleyball –again I stress here – there are many athletes that want to stand up and play a great team sport – reality is that there is not one team sport for standing amputees remaining in the Paralympic Program as the games become more and more oriented towards the sporting needs of the developed nations which focus on elitist + equipment expensive sports. Many Standing Volleyball nations are also currently considering the option of leaving the WOVD to form a new Volleyball federation (Standing) under IWAS. – I will keep you informed of progress in this regard.
However in the final analysis, rest assured that the CNVLD, Cambodia and other nations will continue with their efforts to see Standing Volleyball (also a great spectator sport) return to its rightful place within the Paralympic Family despite the numerous hurdles being deliberately placed in our way due to the continued domination of the IPC by the developed nations of the world and the ongoing refusal of the IPC to listen to the needs of the developing nations.
....and don’t get me started on the issue of the significant funding now being committed worldwide to sports and development yet very little of these funds are actually reaching the grass roots level as we experience constantly in Cambodia) as the majority of funds are being hijacked by the proliferation of a class of Sports and Development academia who are happily absorbing funds’’ which are urgently required at the grass roots level whilst the academics continue to debate whether sports has a role to play in development or continue to draw up esoteric S + D models that are designed in the west and imposed on the developing nation with little to no regard of the actual needs of a developing nation (In Cambodia we answered that question a long time ago !!)........however that's another mail, I would say..........
Best from the Penh! ( And again- a great website – the best by a mile !)