Session V: Capitalising on partnerships and networking
New York, 5 to 6 June 2013
Statement by Mr Marwan Jilani
Head of Delegation and Permanent Observer of the IFRC to the UN
Using sport to engage and empower people, form partnerships, and develop networks to address humanitarian and development challenges
Mr Moderator, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank the International Olympic Committee and the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace for inviting the IFRC to this important forum and to contribute to this discussion.
Since the signing of the MoU between the IFRC and the IOC in 2003, this partnership has been marked by practical collaborations at the headquarters and field levels. Our 187 National Societies are increasingly engaged and are translating this partnership into concrete action on the ground. At the first Youth Olympic Games held in Singapore in 2010, IFRC and the Singapore Red Cross contributed to the humanitarian heart of the Games, with a pavilion, volunteers, and experts on humanitarian issues as identified by the organisers.
Similarly, at the first Youth Winter Olympics held in Austria in 2012, IFRC and the Austrian Red Cross organised a series of interactive and educational activities around topics such as HIV and AIDS awareness, first aid, promotion of blood donation, healthy life-styles and positive images in relation to immigration.
These initiatives show the operational gains associated with the cooperation between IFRC and IOC, drawing on the two largest volunteer networks, while advancing issues of shared concern, especially the empowerment of youth.
We have seen how sport can bring people together to interact, play and engage in conversations that build social harmony. Sport can help to deliver key development messages to a wide audience, for example on well-being and healthy living, peace building, social responsibility, inclusiveness and equality. Such issues are top priorities of the post 2015 development agenda.
In this context, the IFRC is developing a Youth Engagement Strategy (Y.E.S.) which brings attention to the opportunities that youth and sport can generate in addressing humanitarian and development challenges, as well as opportunities for greater engagement of local and regional networks. Many National Societies have included sport as an important component in their Youth programs, and in doing so are placing youth at the centre of efforts to reach out to a wider community on a range of important issues.
The Malaysian Red Crescent, for example uses Facebook for a first aid purpose, generating a series of participatory comments from young people on the value of their programs, as well as generating feedback regarding their provision of Basic First Aid or CPR certificates, which they use in connection with voluntary service at sports events.
Another example is that of the British Red Cross, which ran a conference on migration and conflict in London exemplifying how sport can be used to strengthen teamwork. It did not involve sport as it’s commonly understood, but was a teamwork-building exercise in which young people between the ages of 13 and 17 competed through a series of exercises and workshops to build wider understanding of a range of social issues emerging from migration.
Many programmes use sport to promote a culture of non-violence and peace. For example the Lebanese Red Cross Youth Department, in collaboration with the Lebanese Ministry of Culture, organised and launched a multi-day Peace Festival, employing a series of nonconventional creative activities to spread the message of peace and humanitarian values to youth and children – including a "Run for Peace" Race around Beirut. Yet another example is the South African Red Cross Society “Soccer against violence project”, which promotes peace and tolerance.
Sport is an important tool for the building and strengthening of relationships and partnerships at the ground level, through the implementation of concrete projects that empower the most vulnerable.
One example is the work done in Kibera, Kenya, by a number of different local, national and international organisations to help the residents of this poverty-stricken community break out of poverty and build development opportunities and prosperity for themselves.
In this project, sport has played a key role in teaching social skills with a focus on empowerment, as well as in accomplishing specific objectives related to HIV/AIDS. This partnership brought together the Youth Department of Kibera, the Kenyan Red Cross and UN-Habitat. The project gained world recognition as it tackled a wide-range of poverty-related issues.
The link between sports and charity can clearly be observed from the example of the Uganda Red Cross Society, which became the charity of choice for what is billed as the country’s biggest sporting event, the Kampala Marathon. The event is sponsored by MTN, a South African multinational communications and network company operating in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Proceeds from this event provided significant support for the needs of pregnant women in IDP camps in northern Uganda.
One other important aspect of linking sport with advancing broader goals and objectives is when young sports personalities volunteer and act as role models and ambassadors in the promotion of a culture of non-violence and peace.
Finally, Mr Moderator, I would like to end this intervention with a mention of the joint pledge developed by IFRC and IOC on skills and values based education. This joint pledge was presented at the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent with the commitment to promote a culture of nonviolence and peace through nurturing the humanitarian and Olympic values.