A bit about the history

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A bit about the history

Why is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace observed on 6 April? How did this day come to be? Who were the major actors involved? Learn more about the history behind the day.

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It is not by coincidence that the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) coincides with the anniversary of the opening of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896. The International Olympic Committee played an important role in the UN’s proclamation of the day, as an institution that has long promoted the social and personal benefits of sport.

One could argue that the foundations for the day were laid as far back as 1922 when the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the IOC first signed a collaborative agreement to make sport more accessible to workers.

The ILO-IOC agreement is an important moment in the history of sport and development (S&D) that symbolically brought together both sport and development communities. This early collaboration set the tone for the S&D movement and in hindsight provided a road map for how to move forward, namely, through finding the synergies between both sectors.

The call and the response
As the 3rd UN-IOC International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development came to a close in New York on 6 June 2013, a call was made for “the establishment of a United Nations International Day of Sport and Physical Activity to advocate and celebrate their contribution to education, human development, healthy lifestyles and a peaceful world”.

The call was made in the form of a letter sent from the President of the 67th UN General Assembly, Vuk Jermic, on behalf of the some 400 forum participants. It was addressed to all UN permanent missions encouraging the exploration of such a day.

On 23 August 2013, the UN General Assembly approved by consensus that the 6 April is to be observed as the “International Day of Sport for Development and Peace”. As governments voted on the establishment of the day, it receives wide recognition and ownership on an international scale. This proclamation is the result of collaboration between a number of different stakeholders, including the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP), governments, non-governmental and multilateral organisations and the private sector.

Finding the right balance
It is perhaps fitting that representatives of the sport community and the development community worked together to make this day possible. This collaboration and the resulting proclamation reflect a key characteristic of the S&D sector, namely, that it seeks to find the link between sport and development.

It remains to be seen whether the S&D community will take advantage of the occasion. Just as members of the community worked together to achieve its proclamation, making this inaugural day a historic one will be determined by how it is embraced by the community.

Key moments since the early 2000s
The following are some of the key moments leading to this historic day:

2001 – UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appoints the first Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, introducing the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace.

2003 – First high-level international conference on Sport & Development, Magglingen, Switzerland.

2005 – International Year of Sport and Physical Education (IYSPE) 2005 is proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

2009 - First UN-IOC International Forum on Sport for Development and Peace.

June 2013 - Third UN-IOC International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development, which closed with a call for a United Nations International Day of Sport and Physical Activity.

August 2013 - The 67th United Nations General Assembly proclaims that 6 April is to be observed as the "International Day of Sport for Development and Peace".


This article does not claim to give a detailed account of all the events that contributed to the proclamation of 6 April as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). Rather, the aim is to provide some context on how the day came to be.