Amid Global Conflict, Economic Uncertainty, General Assembly Adopts Text Highlighting Transformative Power of Sport to Achieve Peace, Sustainable Development
Against a backdrop of global conflicts, economic uncertainty and a changing climate, the General Assembly today recognized the power of sport to expand sustainable development and inspire young people around the planet with the adoption of a consensus resolution.
Adopting the text, titled “Sport as an enabler for sustainable development”, delegates laid out the ways in which sport can be used to help young people improve their lives while generating cooperation among nations.
Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, said the international community must include sports and athletes in its work to carry out the changes that transform the world, pointing out that sports bring people together in peaceful conditions and can help combat some of the greater dangers facing humankind. Noting that the World Cup is underway, he said both male and female athletes are role models for millions of young people. It is more promising if nations compete on the fields of sports rather than on battlefields. “The former is more noble and the latter leaves death and devastation behind,” he said, encouraging all Member States to preserve the unifying spirit of sports and the Olympic Movement.
In introducing the resolution, the representative of Monaco pointed to sport’s potential as a catalyst for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. He noted the text refers to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ guidance notes on fighting climate change through sport. The resolution also points out that the sport sector can reduce its own carbon footprint by adopting sustainability standards and raising awareness.
Egypt’s delegate said sport promotes mutual understanding amongst peoples, celebrates cultural diversity and eases dialogue, which is particularly important in a world facing ongoing complex challenges. Sport can also be used to maintain physical and mental health in societies — especially amongst youth. His Government, for example, sponsors and encourages sport activities, develops the skills and talents of children and promotes youth centres. These facilities include innovative platforms for activities outside sport, such as technical and vocational education programmes and employment training. Such efforts ensure that youth are fully integrated into national development, he added.
Agreeing that sport is an effective way to engage youth in a positive and constructive manner, India’s representative said sport teaches discipline, develops camaraderie and enhances communities by bringing people together. “Indeed, sports play a subtle, positive and constructive role in development and peace,” he said. His country’s Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports lays down the policy framework and institutional support for sports-related activities, while the Sports Authority of India, established in 1984, is the principal body for nurturing talent and providing infrastructure, equipment and coaching.
Senegal’s representative, associating himself with the Group of Friends of Sport for Development and Peace, welcomed the outstanding work of the International Olympic Committee, including its efforts to promote gender equality, empower women and improve lives through high-quality sports infrastructure. Sport is a vector for many positive values and “a real school of life” that helps everyone reach their potential, he said. In 2026, Senegal will host the Youth Olympic Games, the first time that the event will take place in Africa, reflecting the country’s goal to integrate sports into its development programmes.
Encouraged by the Assembly’s unity on the resolution, the Permanent Observer of the International Olympic Committee said stronger collaboration between the Olympic community and the United Nations system can advance the global goals by using sport in such areas as peace, health, education, gender equality and climate action. In a polarized world, there are few occasions when humankind can set aside its differences and come together in peace, he said, adding that the Olympic spirit is the most important symbol of peace in today’s world. He welcomed that the draft resolution specifically highlights that international sporting events should be organized in a spirit of peace and without discrimination of any kind.
The Emir of the State of Qatar’s opening speech at the ongoing 2022 FIFA World Cup was an eloquent response to the unfair, selective, racist, condescending and politicized campaigns which targeted Qatar’s organization of the sporting event, that country’s representative said. Her delegation will focus on humanity by building strategic partnerships and expanding international cooperation mechanisms to spread a culture of tolerance and peace. She also pointed to the launch of a campaign on the global goals on the sidelines of the World Cup.
In other business, the Assembly extended its seventy‑seventh session, upon request of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), as well as the work of that Committee, until Friday, 23 December.
Also speaking today were representatives of the Maldives, Singapore, China, Kuwait, Belarus, United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Bahrain.
The representative of the United States spoke in explanation of position.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 6 December, to discuss the strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance and the Secretary-General’s related reports, and to consider action on draft resolutions. The Assembly will also take action on a draft resolution under the topic “culture of peace”.
CSABA KŐRÖSI (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, said there are not nearly as many people present at today’s meeting as the number of spectators who would be attending a major sports event. Noting that the World Cup is underway, he said male and female athletes are among the most powerful and influential people in the world. They are role models looked up to by millions of young people around the globe. “I don’t think any young people today are wearing jerseys with our names on them,” he added. To make the changes that transform the world, the international community must include sports and athletes in its work. Sports bring people together in peaceful conditions and can help combat some of the greater dangers facing humankind. It is not surprising that the Sustainable Development Goals bring people together through sport, peace and development. “Athletes and fans can join forces to be powerful advocates for action,” he stressed. It is up to the international community to make sporting events models of respectable behaviour, fighting violence against women and girls, and combating stigmas against people with HIV or AIDs.
He encouraged all Member States to preserve the unifying spirit of sports and the Olympic Movement. It is more promising if nations compete on the fields of sports rather than on battle fields. “The former is more noble and the latter leaves death and devastation behind,” he added. People are living in a volatile world with deep divisions, and sports and sporting organizations should remain inclusive to bring people together. “We should not forget it is much more desirable to end armed conflicts than to end cooperation,” he said.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
The representative of Monaco, introducing the resolution on “Sport as an enabler of sustainable development” (document A/77/L.28), said that in addition to technical updates, the current text has several new elements, including recommendations to accelerate the international community’s work on sport for development and peace and to maximize the contribution of sports to post-pandemic recovery. Highlighting the potential of sport as a catalyst for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, he added that the text also refers to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)’s guidance notes on fighting climate change through sport. The resolution also points out that the sports sector can reduce its own carbon footprint by adopting sustainability standards and raising awareness. Speaking in his national capacity, he added that sports play a key role in various fields, including empowerment of women. Non-governmental organizations that use sports must be encouraged, he added, highlighting the Peace and Sports Association in his country.
NAAHY MOHAMED RASHEED (Maldives) stressed the power of global, national and local sporting events to build communities, shift attitudes and behaviours and raise awareness of social responsibilities. The Maldives, she noted, has utilized sports as an instrument for youth development and prioritized expanding access to sporting opportunities across the country. Encouraging youth participation in sports promotes their development, leadership and cooperation skills and ensures that they become positive community role models who contribute to economic and social progress. The resumption of high-quality physical education is vital for recovery especially in light of the COVID‑19 pandemic-related decline in physical activity and spike in both anxiety and depression, she said while spotlighting her country’s national policy and guidelines on physical activity. Citing the Secretary-General’s report, she emphasized that sports can be utilized as a low-cost, high-impact tool to rebuild solidarity within and between countries to deliver concrete benefits in the short-term and broader societal change in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
NOAH NEO (Singapore) emphasized the unique ability of sports to bring people together, build communities, forge a sense of national pride and identity and inspire and inculcate values of sportsmanship, fair play, teamwork and respect. Such values are essential building blocks towards unity and amicable rules-based interactions between nations. Beyond allowing nations to compete on the playing field instead of the battlefield, sports contribute to individual and community welfare as well as Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 11 and 17. Spotlighting the participation of Singapore’s athletes in 2022, he noted that his country will host the inaugural Olympic Esports Week in June 2023 which will feature the best of virtual sports, broaden participation and introduce new ways to engage in sports. Expanding accessibility is a priority, he underscored as he detailed his country’s related endeavours and initiatives. Countries, he stressed, must develop a broad sporting culture and ecosystem to encourage wider participation in sports and support the wider sporting community.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) commended the opening speech at the 2022 FIFA World Cup of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani as a most eloquent response to the unfair, selective, racist, condescending and politicized campaigns which targeted Qatar’s organization of the event. Despite such campaigns, Qatar will continue to remain true to national and Arab values, as well as international standards that prevent the politicization of all discrimination introduced in sports. It will continue to focus on humanity by building strategic partnerships and expanding international cooperation mechanisms to achieve coexistence and spread a culture of tolerance and peace, she added, as she spotlighted the launch of a campaign on the global goals on the sidelines of the World Cup. There will be additional events in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), she announced. Reaffirming her country’s commitment to work with regional and international partners on the implementation of the draft resolution, she called on all Member States to implement the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s related report.
ASHISH SHARMA (India), stressing that sport is an effective way of engaging youth in a positive and constructive manner, said it inculcates discipline, develops camaraderie and enhances communities by bringing people together. “Indeed, sports play a subtle, positive and constructive role in development and peace,” he said, encouraging the United Nations to associate with sports personalities to raise awareness about education, health and development. Noting that several Indian sports personalities have collaborated with the Organization’s entities to promote peace and protection of environment, he said sports development is a national priority for his country. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports provides the policy framework and institutional support for sports-related activities, while the Sports Authority of India, established in 1984, is the principal body for nurturing talent and providing infrastructure, equipment and coaching.
GENG SHUANG (China), pointed out that sport transcends religion, race and culture and helps to diffuse conflict, tensions and division. In sports, rivals are also partners for mutual inspiration, and competitions are also platforms for mutual fulfilment. He emphasized that the values of sport should be the guiding principles for cooperation between States, urging States to rise above differences and work together to overcome difficulties. He further noted that Beijing was the first city to host both Summer and Winter Olympic Games, including the Paralympic Winter Games. Moreover, it held the first carbon-neutral Olympic Winter Games and set a new record with woman accounting for 45 per cent of the athletes that competed. He noted that the United Nations has issued its first-ever Sport for Peace stamps for Winter Olympic Games. He spotlighted that Beijing 2022 could become a driver for China’s endeavour to be a leading sport nation.
MOHAMED OMAR ELFAROUK HASSAN MOHAMED (Egypt), noting that exercise prevents 5 million deaths yearly, said that sport acts as a complementary element to maintain physical and mental health in societies — especially amongst youth. Further, sport promotes mutual understanding amongst peoples, celebrates cultural diversity and facilitates dialogue, which is particularly important in the context of ongoing, severe global challenges that require solidarity and cooperation to address successfully. Underlining the importance of sport to achieving sustainable development in line with the “Egypt Vision 2030” agenda, he noted that the Constitution guarantees sport as a right for all Egyptians. The State also sponsors and encourages sport activities, develops the skills and talents of children and promotes an increasing number of youth centres. Projects for such youth facilities include innovative platforms that provide activities other than sport, such as technical and vocational education programmes, economic empowerment and training for the labour market. Such efforts ensure that youth are fully integrated into national development, he added.
Mr. ABDULLAH (Kuwait) highlighted the role of sport in promoting development and friendly relations among people. The advantages of sport are countless, including preventing disease, promoting blood circulation and enhancing mental health. Moreover, the best way to equip youth against extremist ideologies is to help them guide their energies towards supporting their communities, he said, noting that sport strengthens the values of solidarity and helps build communities of peace, friendship and cooperation. Kuwait is strengthening partnerships with the private sector to sponsor programmes for youth in sports, he noted, paying tribute to persons with disabilities and stressing the importance of increasing the number of women in sports. Sport plays a major role in cooperation, solidarity and collective action, he underlined.
PAVEL EVSEENKO (Belarus) said that his country’s social policies prioritize public health and development of physical education and sport. The Government is taking an active part in the development and financing of exercise and sport, including the construction and maintenance of sports facilities and sports clubs, and training of sports specialists and the highest calibre of athletes. Recognizing that sport is a major policy issue and has long been used as a tool for political ambitions, he recalled that the International Paralympic Committee, for political reasons, excluded Belarusian athletes with disabilities from taking part in the Beijing Winter Paralympics. Further on, the General Assembly of the International Paralympic Committee suspended the membership of Belarus. This decision, taken by a minority of votes, is illegal, unjustified and political, he stressed. In addition, the Committee decided to introduce an amendment into its constitution, stripping the “undesirable countries” from their ability to participate in international Paralympic Games.
Ms. AL BLOOSHI (United Arab Emirates), describing sports as a key to tolerance and human development, said the Government of the United Arab Emirates is implementing a 10-year strategy to develop the country’s sports sector and infrastructure. Citizens are encouraged to embrace a healthier and more active lifestyle by, for example, completing 30 minutes of exercise every day. By empowering youth participation in sport, she added, the country’s leaders are promoting the health and mental capacity of young people. Women are meanwhile being empowered at all levels, including through participation at international and domestic sports events. Efforts are also being made to promote sports for people with disabilities, she said, adding that the United Arab Emirates is committed to promoting sports as a means of development which can benefit future generations.
ZÉPHYRIN MANIRATANGA (Burundi), praising the efforts of Member States and United Nations entities in promoting sports for development, highlighted the importance of sports to sustainable development and combating poverty. Sports can also be a catalyst for better recovery and resilience-building, he said, noting that Burundi values sports as a language for promoting peace and tolerance. Sports are crucial to physical and mental health, bringing people and States together and breaking down artificial barriers. Every year since 2006, a “torch of peace” is carried throughout Burundi to demonstrate the link between sports, peace and development. Sporting activities promote social cohesion and can also help protect the environment, he said, adding that the “torch of peace” brings together people from all walks of life to acknowledge the powerful role of sports in enhancing peace.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) commended the role of sports in promoting peace, development and social progress, in addition to supporting physical and mental health. Sports contributes to the empowerment of women, young people and persons with disabilities, serves as a vector for peace, tolerance and mutual respect, promotes humanist values such as tolerance and understanding, and helps to prevent young people from falling prey to violence and extremism. Beyond training champions, sports entails building the necessary infrastructure and promoting relevant laws, he said, highlighting Morocco’s socioeconomic development and its focus on sports as a strong driver of human development, inclusiveness and social cohesion. He went on to note that sports in Morocco is a constitutional right, and that the country hosts a race every 6 April to mark the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.
MAMADOU MOUNSIR NDIAYE (Senegal), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Sports for Development and Peace, welcomed the outstanding work of the International Olympic Committee, including its efforts to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and to improve lives through high-quality sports infrastructure. Sports is a vector for many positive values and “a real school of life” that helps everyone to achieve their potential. He noted that in 2026, Senegal will host the Youth Olympic Games, the first time that the event has will take place in Africa, reflecting the country’s goal to integrate sports into its development programmes.
HATEM ABDULHAMEED MOHAMED SHARIF HATEM (Bahrain), noting that sport promotes good practices and values in communities, said that 10 February is Bahrain’s national day for sport. Such activities represent ethical and human values, provide health benefits and encourage people to exercise daily. “Sport is a key pillar for every society,” he said, urging policymakers to prioritize this issue, particularly in the context of COVID‑19 recovery. On that point, he underlined sport’s ability to aid recovery, promote peace and prevent chronic disease. Bahrain has hosted several global championships and competitions that have made it a destination for activities such as triathlons and biking, with competitions including people living with disabilities. He noted that Bahrain hosted the 2022 World Boccia Cup to raise public awareness of that sport, and will be the venue for the International School Sport Federation’s Gymnasiade in 2024.
LUIS ALBERTO MORENO, Permanent Observer of the International Olympic Committee, said that unity and consensus among Member States for the draft resolution is encouraging. Stronger collaboration between the Olympic community and the United Nations system can advance the Sustainable Development Goals through sport in such areas as peace, health, education, gender equality, and climate action. In a polarized world, there are few occasions when humankind can set aside its differences and come together in peace, he said, adding that the Olympic spirit is the most important symbol of peace in today’s world. He welcomed that the draft resolution specifically highlights that international sporting events should be organized in a spirit of peace and without discrimination of any kind. The Olympic Games must remain politically neutral and not be instrumentalized for political goals, he added, emphasizing the autonomy of sports as expressed in the draft resolution. The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine blatantly violated the Olympic truce resolution and the Olympic Charter, he said, adding that in these dark times, the broad support for the Olympic peace mission, as expressed in the draft resolution, sends a hopeful message.
The representative of the United States, in an explanation of position, said that her delegation strongly believes sport and physical education provide opportunities for education, health, development and peace. They can promote equal access to physical education and activities for all, including women and girls and persons with disabilities. The United States looks forward to joining consensus on the draft resolution, with the acknowledgement that references to various aspects of education are mindful of Government frameworks for education and references to the internationally agreed development goals refer to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, she said.
The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution titled “Sport as an enabler of sustainable development” (document A/77/L.28) without a vote.
Programme of Work
The Assembly then agreed to extend its seventy‑seventh session until Friday, 23 December, upon request of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary). Members also agreed to extend the work of that Committee until the same date.