Mr. President, the United States Delegation supports promoting the use of sport to advance peace and development. My delegation appreciates the potential of sport to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Sport can foster development and peace, can help build an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding, and can serve as a tool for education. Well-planned sporting programs promote cooperation, solidarity, social inclusion and health among all those engaged.
Throughout history, sport has played an important role in the social, political, and economic lives of peoples and nations. Sport is a shared cultural passion that can bring people together across the divisions of region, race and religion. One of the great things about sport is that it reminds us of what humanity has in common, not what may drive us apart.
The United States recognizes the value of sport in this way and has created an office called SportsUnited within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. It is dedicated to international sport programming designed to work at the grass roots level. Its purpose it to aid foreign youth in discovering how success in athletics can be translated into the development of life skills and achievement in the classroom. SportsUnited provides for those foreign youth exposure to American life and culture. It also provides American youth interacting with them the opportunity to learn about foreign cultures and the challenges young people from other countries face today.
Since 2002, the US Department of State has organized funded and organized sports programs in more than 80 countries from all regions of the world. These programs have featured activities in over 25 sports and areas such as disability sports, managing sports community centers, recreational sports, and sports management.
Mr. President, there is so much from the world of sport to imagine and apply toward improving our lives together, whether across oceans, in our neighborhoods, or in our homes. For example, First Lady Michele Obama’s 2010 “Let’s Move!” campaign against childhood obesity is making a difference in the lives of children and families. It encourages physical activity for youth and to improve the quality and availability of physical education in schools. And we are proud to note that “Let’s Move!” is based on an exemplary partnership between the public and private sectors that has underpinned its success. Sport has the power to bring us together and to build stronger societies.
One critically important way that our societies improve is through integrating women and girls more fully, and sport has proven powerful in that regard. Recently U.S. Permanent Representative Susan Rice was recognized by the Women’s National Basketball Association with its Inspiration Award. As an athlete herself, she reminded the gathering that “our daughters need role models who can inspire them to play to the best of their abilities, to compete to the limits of their strength, and to win on their own terms…. Sports are just simply too important to be left to the boys. Determination and drive are habits girls must learn early on and use for a lifetime. These really are the fundamentals—the skills I learned on the court—long before I ever sat at a negotiating table.”
Another way that sport contributes to our society is its inherent lesson of fair play. Perhaps the biggest threat to this is the destructive practice of doping in sport. I am pleased to note in this regard that in 2008 the United States signed an instrument of ratification on the “International Convention against Doping in Sport,” in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. This ratification demonstrated our longstanding commitment to the development of international anti-doping controls and our promise to apply and facilitate the application of appropriate anti-doping controls during competitions held in the United States.
Mr. President, my delegation appreciates the report of the Secretary General for today’s debate. It updates us usefully on progress regarding Sport for Development and Peace, International Working Group policy recommendations, the functioning of the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace, the Trust Fund for Sport for Development and Peace, and the action plan on sport for development and peace.
Furthermore, the United States is pleased to offer its support for today’s draft resolution “Sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace” under agenda item 11 “Sport for peace and development.”
Mr. President, America’s athletic and sports accomplishments provide powerful examples in our globalized society more and more each year. As I described above, the United States has long made sport part of its global outreach for decades. This commitment goes all the way to the top: President Obama recently took a visiting group of young Russian basketball players—boys and girls—to the White House court to shoot some hoops. Diplomacy these days is not only about official meeting in conference rooms; it is also about people-to-people exchanges that break down barriers and build up goodwill. Sport truly is a global language. Sport teaches how to work in teams. Sport builds discipline and confidence. Sport builds your strength and grit, and therefore thrives when play is fair. Let us all draw on those values and strengths in our work here at the United Nations promoting development and peace through sport.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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