To mark and coincide with International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, Save the Dream, Save the Dream – an initiative established by the International Center for Sport Security (ICSS)), has teamed up with the Ministry of Sport of Republic of Iraq to host the country’s first national conference on sport for peace, which took place in Baghdad on 4th of April. Looking at ways sport can build peace, promote international dialogue and drive sustainable development, the conference brought together high level delegates representing governments, international organizations, NGOs, diplomatic figures, along with representatives of international organizations accredited in Iraq. Save the Dream’s Executive Director Massimiliano Montanari joined the Iraqi Minister of Sport to open the event, whose sessions were moderated by Siham Alawami, Director of Special Projects at the International Centre of Sport Security (ICSS).

Save the Dream’s participation in the event reflects the ICSS’ keenness and ongoing efforts to promote the message of sport as an important mean of conflict resolution and building peace, and spreading values of respect and tolerance. It also confirms its firm commitment to empower young people and women, promote health, education, sustainable development goals, and social integration. The Minister of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Iraq, HE Abdul Hussein Abtaan, opened the conference, stressing in his speech that sport is a mean of spreading peace and love, promoting health, and fighting terrorism, drugs and doping, organizational crime, in addition to its economic value. He urged the participants to implement the recommendations adopted by the conference and aimed at achieving development and prosperity. He called for holding an international conference on sport investment, which will bring together businessmen, academics, and experts in the field.

Sport has become an important pillar to increase employment opportunities and enhance national economies, he explained, calling for joining forces with private sector to achieve these goals. For his part, Save the Dream’s Executive Director Massimiliano Montanari said:” Sport spreads a strong message aimed at building bridges between civilizations, and fighting violence and segregation, “referring in this context to sport boycott of South Africa during the apartheid era. “Sport was able to unify North and South Korea and made history,” he stressed.

“Save the Dream works to empower youth and inspire societies towards the practice of sport. People inspired by sport values abhor corruption, discrimination and violence. We are honoured to assist the government of Iraq in the organisation of its First National Conference on Spot for Peace; this is the best tribute we could pledge in support of the 6th of April, the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. I trust this Conference will promote the development of a national roadmap utilising sport to contribute to the efforts of the Iraqi nation in the field of dialogue and reconciliation. ” Massimiliano Montanari

For her part, Siham Alawami, Director Special Projects at the International Centre of Sport Security (ICSS) said:” We are delighted to be part of organizing the first edition of the National Conference for Peace and Sport in Iraq. We are here today to celebrate sport and spread values of peace as the world marks the international day of sport for peace and development.” “This conference has a particular importance, reflecting Iraq’s leading position at the international sport community while stressing the power of sport as a mean to unify people from different backgrounds, in addition to its role in enhancing human rights and social and economic development,” adds Alawami.

The aim of the event,  (already said above) , is to create an open platform to exchange ideas and drive forward solutions for Iraq linked to social development and peace building, through sport.

Aligned with the UN’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on April 6, the conference will highlight the power of sport as a development tool and help to raise awareness of the progress being made in Iraq through the collaborative efforts of the public, private and philanthropic sectors using sport to drive change and empower young people across the country.

Topics include:

  • Sport and human values (citizenship, integrity, equality and dialogue)
  • Defining means to support and encourage sport in schools
  • Empowering people with special needs and intellectual disabilities
  • The role of sport in economic development and enhancing sustainable development goals
  • The role of sport in raising environmental awareness

An open message to the United Nations Secretary General was delivered by an Iraqi child, sending a call from all Iraqi children to guarantee their right of a safe and peaceful sport and expressing hope on the termination of  the ban imposed on the Iraqi sport.

The Conference has issued the following recommendations:

  • To elaborate a partnership program between the ICSS and the Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Sport aimed at achieving peace through sport
  • Obtaining a decision by the Iraqi government to rehabilitate Iraqi lands and implement investments to establish stadiums and sport fields in different regions in Iraq to provide a free exercise of sport and promote the Iraqi society
  • Adopt the principle of fair play and therefore spread values of sport during major sport events
  • To put a strategic plan aimed at developing sport for people with special needs and Paralympic games
  • Promote school sport by providing full support by the Iraqi State
  • Enhance cooperation between the Ministry of Youth and Sport and the Ministry of Education along with national sport federations to implement programs to support talented young athletes
  • Raise the messages adopted by the international sport institutions as basic principles in sport, and implement them in sports forums, mainly these calling to fight terrorism, extremism, sectarianism, doping, and drugs addiction and are aimed at achieving peace and equity, and adopting civic and a healthy life style through sport and training program.
  • Implement programs aimed at empowering women in sport
  • Draw a comprehensive strategy in the field of sport investment in public and private sectors in order to achieve social peace

Rehabilitation of sportive infrastructure in the areas freed by the Iraqi government and international organizations and reintegrate them in the Iraqi community.

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