Introduction peace and reconciliation

The content of this section was developed by Pelle Kvalsund, NIF, 2007

For decades Sports nature and intrinsic values have been questioned. In 1970's George Orwell stated that "Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words: it is war minus the shooting." At the same time sport evangelists started preaching that sport offered more than a temporary haven for the suspension of conflict. For this group sport, locally and globally, can solve those problems that politicians and militaries palpably cannot. "…if sport was good for them… it must be good for others..." (G. Stidder & J. Sugden, 2003)

In 2005 with the International Year of Sport and Physical Education the added value of sport as peace building factor was given almost unanimous recognition by the international development community. The UN regards sport as an effective tool and a strong unifying factor in the process of conflict transformation and peace building. This has for instance led to the use of sport-related activities as an integral part of nation building and to foster goodwill within local communities by a number of UN peacekeeping missions worldwide.

Not only has sport been recognized as a powerful apparatus, but the fundamental values of the sports and play alone have been acknowledged as very important elements in the building of a strong civil society and states where tolerance and friendship is being built. More than a conflict transforming tool, sport has been granted the potential as a conflict-prevention measure, helping forestall processes that generate aggression, hatred and fear.

Request for input

This theme is in development. Please sent your contributions to


  • Paper on Sport and peace building by Pelle Kvalsund (pdf)
  • Sport as opportunity for community development and peace building in South Africa, 2006, M. Keim, University of the Western Cape South Africa, In: Y. vanden Auweele, C. Malcolm & B. Mulders (eds). Sport and development. (word
  • From Practice to Policy: Preliminary Report of the Sport for Development and Peace, International Working Group (pdf)

Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group

The Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group (SDP IWG) is a four-year initiative engaging national governments, United Nations (UN) agencies, and civil society in the development of practical recommendations for the integration of Sport for Development and Peace into domestic and international development policies and programs. The work of the SDP IWG will culminate in the presentation of a comprehensive set of policy recommendations for national governments in conjunction with the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Link to the website.