UNA-UK 'Olympic Truce' initiatives praised at high-profile London Forum
On 25 March 2013, UNA-UK was represented at the Olympic Truce Legacy Forum (Forum) in London, organised by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace.
The modern Olympic Truce movement builds on the ceasefires held during the ancient Games to celebrate the power of sport to promote peace and understanding. In the lead-up to the 2012 London Games, the UK initiated a global programme of activities to bring the Truce ideals to life, and the Forum provided an opportunity to discuss this unique aspect of the 2012 Games with future host nations.
The Forum launched the ‘Summary Report on the Olympic Truce at London 2012’, which highlights key activities undertaken by the UK and civil society partners, including UNA-UK, and features recommendations on implementing a Truce programme for future hosts. Specific UNA-UK initiatives showcased in the report were our Model UN schools tournament, and the presentation of London ambassadors’ letters of support, organised by UNA Westminster. Other UNA-UK projects were praised by the FCO Minister for Conflict Issues, Mr Mark Simmonds, who spoke about UK’s vision of the 2012 Games making a “significant contribution to mobilising peace”.
Those present included: Dr Wilfred Lemke, UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, who spoke at a major UNA-UK event on the Truce; senior officers from the IOC and the International Olympic Truce Centre; officials from the FCO; Lord Michael Bates, who undertook a 3,000 mile walk from Olympia in Greece to London in support of the Truce; and representatives from future host nations. Mrinalini Singh, volunteer researcher with UNA-UK, represented the Association.
In his remarks, Dr Lemke stated that the “Olympic Truce is the heart of the Olympic movement”. He stressed the need to educate young people about the concept of the Olympic Truce, and the potential for sport to be used "as a tool for achieving the Millennium Development Goals”. UNA-UK has created a teaching pack entitled ‘The United Nations Matters’, which includes a lesson on the Truce. This pack was distributed to every secondary school in the UK. Lord Bates, meanwhile, suggested that the year 2014, the centenary year of the commencement of World War I, be used to further strengthen the concept of Olympic Truce.
Mr Tommy Sithole, Director of the International Cooperation and Development Department, IOC complemented the London 2012 Games for successfully “integrating” the essence of Olympic Truce in the Games itself. The FCO officials highlighted the importance of conflict prevention as a vital ingredient of the Truce. The audience at the Forum also discussed the importance of forging essential partnerships with various groups including non-governmental organisations in order to make Truce events a success. During the Forum's final session, representatives from the future host nations of the Games, Russia and South Korea shared their strategies on successful organisation of the Games.