To mark the day the period of the Olympic Truce traditionally begins, one week before the opening of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham highlighted the UK’s commitment to the Olympic Truce ideals of conflict prevention and peace.
“I am delighted that the UK’s efforts to raise the ambition of what the Olympic Truce can help achieve have been embraced by the international community. Our journey began last October when the UK put forward an Olympic Truce Resolution in the UN General Assembly, which was co-sponsored by all 193 UN Members States. I believe this unprecedented show of support should be described as the first world record of the London Games.
“Since then, working in partnership with host Governments, parliamentarians, National Olympic Committees, NGOs and faith groups, our diplomatic missions have delivered over 50 events internationally, bringing together diverse communities affected by conflict to participate in sporting, cultural or educational activities to promote conflict prevention and peace. These include:
- In the Caribbean, we have worked with the National Olympic Association and local NGOs to organise football tournaments for local rival gangs.
- Our Embassy in Khartoum brought together young people from different communities from Sudan and South Sudan, specifically refugees and residents from Darfur, to play in a football tournament, building on ongoing work to create a youth football league.
- In Sri Lanka, we hosted a Paralympic-style sports day for disabled soldiers, disabled ex-combatants and disabled civilians. Sport acted as a “quiet diplomat”, bringing together former adversaries to understand each others’ perspectives, embracing diversity and encouraging inclusivity.
- In Thailand, we organised a media development course for key reporters and commentators on the violence in Southern Thailand, encouraging more objective journalism which can be consumed widely without fear of fuelling further discontent.
“We look forward to passing on the baton to future host nations. Sochi 2014, Rio 2016 and Pyeongchang 2018 will all be excellent opportunities to continue the mobilisation of the Olympic Truce ideals. We have welcomed support from the International Olympic Committee and the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace for our international work. We are encouraged by this collective interest. The challenge for the international community is to now ensure that when future UN Olympic Truce Resolutions are adopted, a practical approach to mobilising the ideals of conflict prevention and peace is implemented.”