General Assembly: 43rd Plenary Meeting, 76th Session
Delegates Also Adopt Resolution Proclaiming 2022 International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development
Adopting two consensus resolutions today, the General Assembly recognized the unifying power of sport and science as humanity struggles to emerge peacefully from a devastating global pandemic.
Against the backdrop of today’s manifold challenges, delegates paid tribute to the ancient Greeks’ use of sports competition to foster peace, adopting the 193‑member Assembly’s annual draft resolution entitled, “Sport for development and peace: Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal” (document A/76/L.13). Members then spotlighted the role science can play in helping people and communities forge a more sustainable world, adopting a second draft resolution titled “International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development, 2022” (document A/76/L.12).
Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, said the draft resolution on sport and the Olympic ideal urges countries to observe the Olympic Truce — an ancient tradition of halting conflict in order to give the Games’ athletes and spectators safe passage. Emphasizing that the world’s common destiny draws together every national flag and background, he said nations should use sport as a tool to support dialogue and reconciliation, striving for a peaceful world aligned with the principles and values enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
The representative of China, introducing that text, agreed that Olympic values are consistent with the United Nations mission to preserve international peace and security. Since 1993, the Organization has called for the renewal and observance of the seven‑day Olympic Truce before and after the Games. China is committed to hosting an open and inclusive Winter Olympic Games in 2022, which will build resilience to the COVID‑19 pandemic as it fosters tolerance and mutual understanding. He called on Member States to reject any acts that undermine the Olympic values and remain open to the peaceful resolution of disputes.
The representative of Zimbabwe said sport transcends cultural, religious and language barriers as it unites people around a common goal and promotes good health, teamwork and friendly competition. The twenty‑fourth Winter Games and the thirteenth Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing are arriving at a perfect time to help counter the widespread effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic, he said, adding that the Olympics demonstrate humanity’s unity and resilience as well as the power of international cooperation to overcome global challenges.
The representative of Greece said the Assembly’s annual resolution invites Member States to observe the Olympic Truce and use peaceful and diplomatic means to resolve all international conflicts. The text also recognizes the International Olympic Committee’s initiatives to promote human well‑being and international understanding. She expressed her hope that the young athletes participating honestly and ethically in the upcoming Games will herald the concept of the Truce and spread a message of tolerance, good will and peaceful settlement of disputes around the globe.
Colombia’s delegate noted that the concept of using sports to transform wars into peaceful events first emerged in ancient Greece. Emphasizing that sports can contribute to healthy human co‑existence and give hope to children and youth, he recalled that Colombia has invested $53 million in 2021 to upgrade its sports infrastructure. Urging the International Olympic Committee to ensure that the development of sports infrastructure reaps lasting benefits for host communities, he reiterated his country’s view of sports as a measure to advance both peace and development.
The representative of the Russian Federation agreed that the Olympic ideals remain as relevant as ever and can help foster harmony in today’s complex world. He urged all States to observe the resolution’s call for an Olympic Truce before and after the upcoming Games. Pointing out that sport can foster sustainable development, he said it can also shield youth from negative influences, such as terrorism. However, he warned that sport should not become a political tool or an instrument of intrigue, such as blackmail, and it must never be used as an instrument of power involving sanctions. Indeed, the collective punishment of athletes remains an unacceptable practice, he said.
In a similar vein, the representative of Belarus described some individual politicians’ attempts to “put on a show” and demagogue against the backdrop of the forthcoming Olympic Games as equally unacceptable. He noted that Belarus was deprived of its right to host the World Ice Hockey Championship in 2021 for political reasons and the Belarusian team has been unexpectedly excluded from the Dakar 2022 rally marathon, just 33 days before the event’s start. Those dangerous precedents are a good example of how easily sporting events — designed to unite countries and peoples — can become an instrument of discord, pressure and political intrigue in the hands of dishonest politicians.
The observer for the International Olympic Committee said that by adopting the Olympic Truce resolution, the Assembly supports the mission of uniting the world’s best athletes, without discrimination, in the spirit of peaceful and respectful competition. This mission can only be accomplished if the Olympic Games are politically neutral. Describing the upcoming Winter Games in Beijing as the start of a new era, he noted that their venues will be powered by renewable energy and organized safely under a “zero‑COVID‑19” strategy.
Introducing the draft resolution designating 2022 as the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development, the representative of Honduras said the COVID‑19 pandemic shows that society needs to better develop the scientific knowledge to tackle similar emergencies in the future. The proclamation of an interdisciplinary, international year of basic sciences for sustainable development makes it possible to identify interested partners — including the scientific community, political leaders and civil society members — to develop synergies. The text also demonstrates the commitment of all delegations to promote and teach basic sciences to improve humanity, she said.
Also speaking today on the topic of sport and the Olympic ideal were the representatives of Monaco, Maldives, Qatar, Singapore, Venezuela, Cambodia, Morocco, Viet Nam, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, India, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Syria, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Egypt, Bahrain and France.
The representative of the United States spoke in explanation of position.
Before the adoption of the resolution, the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development, Cuba’s delegate spoke in explanation of position.
In other business, the Assembly agreed to extend its seventy‑sixth session until Thursday, 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.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 6 December, to discuss the return or restitution of cultural property to countries of origin, as well as the culture of peace, and to consider draft resolutions on each topic.