Human Rights Affirming Remarks During The Peace and Sport International Forum

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s statement during the 7th Peace and Sport International Forum in Monaco.

I am pleased to send greetings to all participants at the 7th Peace and Sport International Forum in Monaco. I especially thank H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco for his invaluable advocacy on this issue, and Mr. Joël Bouzou for his dedicated leadership as President and Founder of Peace and Sport.

As you meet, the United Nations General Assembly is set to pass its Olympic Truce Resolution ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Traditionally, this resolution expresses the collective reaffirmation of United Nations Member States of the contribution sport can make to our common goal of peace.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly declared 6 April as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. This is a clear recognition sport can contribute to human rights and development, erasing barriers and promoting solidarity around the world.  This new commemoration on the international calendar should further promote the value of sport as a tool for development and peace. I hope all of you will help organize celebrations of the Day.

In my travels around the world, I have seen first-hand the power of sport to unite people, raise awareness and resources, and inspire individuals, particularly youth. From makeshift village fields to big-city arenas sport reminds us of our common humanity.

That is why I must take this opportunity to issue a resounding denunciation of any form of discrimination in the world of sport. We must adamantly reject all attempts to divide people or advance intolerant views in any athletic competition. As we carry out our efforts to promote peace through sport, let us remember to uphold and defend universal human rights. When we recognize that all people are born free and equal, we can create a more peaceful world.

I thank you for your support and wish you great success.

Statement from Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens, U.S. Representative to ECOSOC, at a General Assembly meeting on Sport for Peace and Development

The United States is pleased to cosponsor the resolution entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal.” We especially want to draw attention to the language in the resolution “calling upon host countries to promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind.” This is the first time that language of this kind appears in a resolution on the Olympic Truce, and it sends a powerful message highlighting the role that sport plays for all people. This phrase emphasizes the importance of inclusion and participation of all people in sporting activity, regardless of identity, including persons of different sexual orientations and gender identities.

In its recitation of the fundamental principles of Olympism, the Olympic Charter states “Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

Many of the most inspirational moments in the Olympics have come through the ever-broadening participation of persons of various backgrounds in the Games, including: Native-American Jim Thorpe’s decathlon and pentathlon gold medals in the 1912 Olympics; the four gold medals African-American Jesse Owens won at the 1936 Berlin Olympics; the three 1960 gold medals of Wilma Rudolph, an African-American woman stricken with polio at age four whose childhood doctors feared she may never walk without wearing a leg brace; and the recent inspirational performance of South African Caster Semenya, who faced unprecedented challenges and unfair gender testing in 2009 only to return proudly and medal in the London Games, where her teammates selected her for the honor of serving as her nation’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony.

Part of what makes sport so important is that it promotes inclusion, bringing together people of different ages, races, religions, social status, disabilities, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Sport embraces all segments of society and is instrumental in empowering people of diverse backgrounds, while fostering tolerance and respect for all people, no matter what they look like, where they come from, where they worship, or whom they love.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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