UN Secretary-General closes UNOSDP

Photo: sanjitbakshi/Flickr

Photo: sanjitbakshi/Flickr


By Mads A. Wickstrøm
The UN Secretary-General has decided to close the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP). The decision may send a “problematic message”, says EPAS Consultative Committee.

On May 4, in a meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, agreed to establish a direct partnership between the UN and the IOC.

The UN will have direct access to IOC’s expertise and its 206 National Olympic Committees as well as the International Sports Federations. As a consequence of the decision to establish a direct partnership, Secretary-General Antonia Guterres announced the closure of the UNOSDP to avoid “parallel work”, according to the IOC.

“This will strengthen the position of sport even more in society and will help sport to fulfil its role as ‘an important enabler of sustainable development’, as outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The direct partnership is fully in line with the UN resolution, which ‘supports the independence and autonomy of sport as well as the mission of the IOC in leading the Olympic Movement’,” IOC President Thomas Bach said after the meeting with the UN Secretary-General.

The UNOSDP was established in 2001 to assist the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace. As such, UNOSDP’s role was to raise awareness about sport and the use of physical activity as tools in the advancement of peace and development objectives, including the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The Consultative Committee of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) established by the Council of Europe however, is surprised over the decision to dissolve the UNOSDP. In a resolution adopted at a meeting on May 9, the Consultative Committee of EPAS expresses its concern over the closure of UNOSDP:

“Given that this decision is very recent and very little information has been given to make a balanced assessment of its impact, the EPAS CC considers nevertheless that this decision might send a problematic message, at a point in time where the awareness about the societal role of sport is growing in general, and where in particular the UN, several governments and numerous organisations from civil society is wishing to focus on how sport can contribute to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG),” Jens Sejer Andersen, Chairman of the Consultative Committee writes on behalf of the committee.

Henceforth, most of UNOSDP’s portfolio will be handled by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), according to chief UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.


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