International Day of Sport for Development and Peace at the United Nations

By Ryan Green | April 14, 2018, 10:08 a.m. (ET)

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace at the United Nations with Tahl Leibovitz and Ahmed El-Malah

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace at the United Nations with Tahl Leibovitz; Paralympic Gold Medalist and Ahmed El-Mallah International Level Table Tennis Coach.

On April 6th, 2018 at the Economic and Social Chamber of the United Nations a panel discussion was organized with the permanent Missions of Columbia, Italy, Qatar and Rwanda to the United Nations. The focus of the event was the 2030 agenda for the UN Sustainable Development Goals on health, education, gender equality; as well as peaceful and inclusive societies.

There were many topics in which a panel of representatives from many parts of the world engaged in. Discussion was centered around promoting the well-being of individuals of all ages, reduction of inequality, and an increase in empowerment for women.

Tahl and Ahmed were able to speak in detail with managing director of Peace and Sport Laurent Dupont as well as other high-level representatives of peace about some of the challenges facing the world today and how sport can work as an equalizer to bridge differences and promote unification among people of opposing viewpoints. Sport can work as a vehicle to create common ground and shared interests which in turn can set the stage for open dialogue between people who may otherwise never contemplate and discuss their differences.

Ahmed El-Mallah stated that it was a great opportunity for him to the be at the United Nations speaking with and observing panelists “I am always interested in exchanging ideas with people of different cultures and different backgrounds” Ahmed said. “We all have one common goal and that is to be able to create peace and start a conversation about how we can all work together to make the world a better place.”

Tahl Leibovitz, a Paralympic Gold Medalist and a panelist taking part in the discussion spoke highly about the inclusion of others in conversation and dialogue

"In order for us to diminish someone’s value we have to create a story about their humanity. We must imagine in our minds that the person in front of us is in deficit and some how lacks the ability to be human. When we successfully remove someone’s humanity it is then and only then that we can cause them harm. We do that because we tell ourselves that this person isn’t deserving of life and for that reason, we can hurt them; physically or any way we choose. We can move from people to groups to countries and so on. However, once we create a conversation and a dialogue is started we then can see people for who are they are. We begin to see that they are just like us and we slowly remove the division between ‘them and us’ until we are all one and the same. We can start this process through the world of sport.”

The event itself was a success. Participants from many countries were able to express their ideas and vision for creating sustainable change through sport. Due to the success of today’s event; there was some discussion about next year’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace at the United Nations to be an all-day event to celebrate International Day for 2019.