Peace in Progress Nº 27

Sport, Peace & Development

The book Sport, Peace & Development explores, in thirty-six chapters, how sport can favor peace, social cohesion and development.  It consists of six sections produced by organizations such as UNDP, UNICEF or Right to Play, and by professionals specializing in this sector. The prefaces have been written by Wilfried Lemke, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, and by Joël Bouzou, president of Peace and Sport, LOrganisation pour la Paix par le Sport.

The first part of the book offers a general historical perspective and highlights the role of the UN in this field.  Then, in the second section, there is a reasoned explanation about the promotion of sport as a builder of peace, where the authors also illustrate various good practices.  For example, they explain the case of more than 12,000 youths in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya who assembled a total of 940 basketball, football and volleyball teams, and where important ethnic and gender barriers were broken.  The third part presents sport as a facilitator of reconciliation, both between ethnically divided populations, as well as between people on opposing sides of a war.  Here the authors highlight how sport can have two positive benefits: on a personal level, it works as an instrument to empower individuals and facilitate the overcoming of traumatic experiences, and on a community level, it promotes constructive interpersonal interactions between belligerents or groups with initially conflicting interests and ideologies.

The fourth section exemplifies sports ability to facilitate development.  It highlights how sport has attenuated social phenomena such as poverty, illness and discrimination, and it argues that sport can promote health, education and international development in general. The fifth section is the longest; this part offers a detailed study of numerous cases where sport has contributed to the synergy of peace and development.  For example, one of the chapters explains processes of active participation and learning through sport, of games and participative activities with women who were victims of domestic violence in a context of post conflict in Guatemala.

In this way, through numerous examples and relevant experiences from around the world, the authors refute the idea that peacebuilding through sport is a mere myth.  The end result is an innovative volume, over five hundred pages long, with a solid theoretical and practical foundation.  It is therefore of great value to professionals and academics, and to all those interested, not only in the field of sport, peace and development, but also in conflict resolution, nonviolence, disarmament, demobilization and social reintegration.

Adapted Sport Manual. Adapting sporting practice to serve society and contribute to Sustainable Peace

Peace and Sport, L’Organisation pour la Paix par le Sport is an organization founded in 2007 by Olympic medallist and world champion of modern pentathlon Joël Bouzou, who is also its current president.  Its objectives are to work for sustainable peace around the world through the promotion of sports values, and to contribute to the education of younger generations through the promotion of social stability, reconciliation and intercommunity dialogue.

At an international level, Peace and Sport is recognized for its interventions in areas that are vulnerable due to conditions of extreme poverty, recent conflicts or lack of social cohesion.  Throughout these years, the professional actors who form part of the organization have been able to observe and test a series of sporting practices in the field, incorporate new mechanisms and consolidate new knowledge in order to facilitate social ties.  This is the context that led them to gather the experience acquired in a manual called Adapted Sport, so that the knowledge obtained could reach as many people as possible.

The purpose of this manual is not the promotion of sport in general, but rather its promotion as an educational tool for peace, which can be adjusted to a wide range of contexts.  It aims to highlight and promote the adaptability of teams and ground rules to the needs and circumstances of the environment.

The document, over 150 pages long, is presented through numerous explanatory illustrations and images of real experiences that enliven and facilitate the understanding of its proposals.  Various sections are developed under this form of presentation.  It begins with an overview that defends the use of sport as an educational and social tool.  Then a series of tips and initial guidelines are presented schematically to facilitate the planning and preparation of the actors who will intervene.

The body of the manual is a series of files that specify the method of implementation of a number of sports, such as athletics, basketball, badminton, boxing, baseball and chess.  These are some examples, about which a great many aspects have been developed: the main values, most significant characteristics, suggestions and advice from professional athletes, as well as the possible adaptation of the playing field, teams, rules and instructions.  Furthermore, each file evaluates the interpersonal abilities that the sport in question can strengthen.  Later, there is a list of examples of sports equipment made from natural resources or recycled waste materials.  Finally, specific warm-up and stretching exercises are explained in order to help professionals manage the activities in the best way possible.

Sport & Peace: Mapping the Field

Much of the dominant thought regarding sport and peace is mostly based on "what" and "why," and offers very few answers to the "how."  Most organizations can articulate "why" sports are an effective tool for peace and "what" they can contribute on an individual and community level, but they find it difficult to express "how" sports are different from other human interests and "how" these differences provide a unique platform for building peace.

Therefore, based on a partnership between Generations for Peace and the conflict resolution program at Georgetown University, the need to know the conditions and processes that are necessary to promote peace through sport arose.  The aim was to reduce the knowledge gap in this field and move towards a global understanding based on practice.  The research was conducted over a year to identify innovative sport programs and practices in peacebuilding, and to analyze their design, implementation and evaluation.  The most significant results obtained from this international mapping project have been compiled in the report Sport & Peace: Mapping the Field.

The document presents, both thematically and geographically, a large diversity of organizations, resources and practices that are available in the field of sport as a tool for peacebuilding.  A thorough bibliographic review and extensive ethnographic fieldwork were carried out in Cyprus, France, Germany, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Northern Ireland, Palestine, South Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as numerous interviews in all the territories.

The report is divided into two sections: the first one reveals the most effective and efficient methods for the design, implementation and evaluation of a program, using four practical examples known through fieldwork or through academic literature.  The aim of this part is to provide a snapshot of current good practices.  At the same time, it intends to offer recommendations to academics, professionals and politicians.

The second section presents three major challenges faced by organizations working to build peace through sport: a lack of coherent and competitive funding, a lack of empirically tested methods, and difficulties with monitoring and structured evaluation.

Additionally, the document presents guidelines for practice and recommended readings that support the various methodologies used.  All in all, the report is a very complete compilation and a practical and useful resource for those approaching this field for the first time or for all those professionals who want to promote sport as a tool for peace and development through practices that have proven to be successful.

Sport and Development

The Sport & Development website defines itself as a platform. The volume of information, the way it is structured, the usefulness of its content and the interaction possibilities it offers the registered user are proof that we are not dealing with just any website. Sport & Development covers a wide range of content on everything related to sport and development. It is worth noting that, in terms of transparency, the platform includes who its major contributors are, as well as the terms and conditions it is governed by.

As for content, there are three sections: “Learn more,” “Toolkit” and “News & Views.” The first one is the most static part of the website. Here you can find articles that delve into the relationship between sport and peace, with information about what sport is, its relationship with the United Nations, education, youth or the disabled. It is a very useful tool for all those who are beginning to work in this area. The “Toolkit” section is aimed at sport professionals, particularly those who want to take into account the goals promoted by the platform (development, human rights and peace). Here users will find guides, tools and advice on the practical implementation of sport.  Finally, the “News & Views” section includes news, debates, and upcoming events of interest, so it is a very useful section for both those who are new to this field as well as those who are experienced professionals.

It is worth mentioning that the platform is not limited to “comfortable” conceptions about the relationship between sport and peace, but also deals with activities that are critical, at least with respect to major tournaments and the impact they have on human rights. A good example is the round table “Major Sporting Events and Human Rights” or the call for articles on the impact of sport mega-events, with the aim of analysing the advantages and disadvantages of these types of events.

Finally, another one of the website’s strong points is the possibility of finding people, organizations and institutions that work in the field of sport, development and peace from a range of disciplines, both in academia and on the ground. The user can register to become a member or simply to consult the information available through a map that contains users from all over the world.

Into the sea

In the 2015 edition of the SPORTEL awards*, Marion Poizeau won the prize for best documentary in the category Peace and Sport for Into the Sea.  The documentary tells the story of three women - Irish surfer Easkey, Iranian scuba diver Shah and Iranian snowboarder Mona - who try to introduce a new sport in Iran: surfing.  The motivation that unites them is clear: the belief in the power of sport to break down social and gender barriers.

The story begins in 2010, when Easkey and Marion go to Iran for the first time and receive a very warm and positive reaction from the local population since they had never seen anyone surf before.  Following this first positive experience, they get together with two Iranians and return in 2013.  Thus, over 52 minutes, Marion documents the three surfers’ trip and their efforts to introduce the sport in Iran.  The film shows how these young women try to encourage more people to join them, leaving aside cultural and gender differences.  Together they have sown the seed for new opportunities, becoming the first women who practice surfing in Iran.

Besides producing the documentary, the team has founded the organization Waves of Freedom, an initiative that aims to use surfing as a means of empowering the most vulnerable people in society, especially women and girls.  Far from initial expectations, they have obtained considerable acceptance in Baluchistan, a remote region of Iran.

*SPORTEL is one of the main sports conventions in the world for sports media industry leaders.

© Generalitat de Catalunya

Tools Left Right