Exploring the role of youth and sport in preventing and countering violent extremism, an expert panel discussion on ‘Good Practices on Youth Engagement Through Sports’ was convened by the Gobierno de Mexico, the Organization of American States (OAS), United Nations Interregional and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and ICSS’ initiative Save the Dream.

Identifying that sport has historically played a significant role in the dissemination of positive values throughout across civilisations and cultures, particularly for youth, the panel discussions were formed around the topics of ‘Academic and Institutional Framework: The Importance of Effective Youth Engagement In The Prevention Of Violent Extremism’ and ‘Youth Engagement: Examples And Good Practices’.

The webinar was delivered by eminent experts in the fields of international policymaking and academia such as Mr. Roberto de León, Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, Mexico, Mr. Alex Mejia, Director of the Division for People and Social Inclusion at UNITAR and Ms. Antonia Marie De Meo, Director of UNICRI, Dr. Marion Keim, Chairperson Foundation for Sport, Development and Peace, Interdisciplinary Centre for Sports Science and Development University of the Western Cape, Prof. Richard Giulianotti, Professor of Sociology, Loughborough University, and Mr. Edgar Romero, Grupo Internacional de Paz, Europe Representative.

The event was attended by 900 attendees representing global organizations working in sport and PVE, sport for peace and development, experts, youth, representatives of member states of OAS, and other UN entities.

Bahruz Balayev, Head, Global Outreach, Save the Dream said;

“Youth play important roles as agents of positive change and are generally much better positioned to promote a culture of tolerance and peace amongst their peers. Providing young people with the required skills and the opportunity to lead and act as agents of change can reinforce the role of sport as a powerful terrorism-prevention tool.”

Massimiliano Montanari, CEO, ICSS and Save the Dream said;

“Today’s event follows the launch by the ICSS and its UN partners of the second pillar Global Programme on the Security of Major Sporting Events, and Promotion of Sport and its Values as a Tool to Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE)’, which took place last September. I believe that it was one of the first time, perhaps the first time in the history of ‘Sport for Development and Peace’, that we have seen highest level representatives from so many different sectors around the same table, including the UN leaders at Under-Secretary General level on terrorism prevention, dialogue across civilisations, socio-economic development and youth affairs.”

The launch of the Global Programme’s PVE component envisaged the participation of senior officials from the international organizations involved, from over forty governments, NGOs, academia, and a massive participation of sport organisations.

Among the sport stakeholders, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of Qatar, the World Taekwondo Federation, the Basketball Africa League, Real Madrid Foundation, S.L. Benfica, Sevilla FC, and AC Milan, African Football Confederation, Asian Football Federation, Royal Belgian Football Association, Portuguese National Olympic Committee, Italian Olympic Committee, and many others.

The event also saw the participation of celebrated athletes and influential sport persons such as Mr. José Mourinho, Head Coach, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, Mr. Edgar Davids, former Dutch National Team footballer, Laura Georges, Secretary-General of the French Football Federation, Ms. Nadia Nadim, Football Player, Paris Saint-Germain Féminine, Danish National Team, Ms. Sari Essayah, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member, Former World and European Race-Walking Champion, Member of the Parliament of Finland, and the Save the Dream Ambassadors Ms. Tegla Loroupe, Captain of IOC Refugee Team, Ms. Fiona May, World Champion and Olympic medalist in Long Jump and Ms. Honey Thaljieh, FIFA Manager, founder of the Female Palestinian National Team, Save the Dream Ambassador.

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