The Commonwealth Advisory Body on Sport (CABOS) has said that sport should be seen as an essential part of development, rather than a standalone intervention.
The advisory body said that three principles need to be more widely recognised and respected to strengthen Sport for Development and Peace (SDP): sport should be embedded in development; local involvement is critical; and mechanisms are needed to protect the human rights of participants.
The 14-member body met at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters in Marlborough House, London, UK, on 3-4 April 2012 to prepare the recommendations for the Secretary-General and Secretariat ahead of the 6th Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting to be held on 25 July 2012 in London.
Chair of CABOS, Dr Bruce Kidd, said: “Sport should be connected to development activities in education, health, gender inclusion, good governance and so on. Sport shouldn’t be seen as a standalone intervention to development but should be embedded in development.”
He further explained that the most effective forms of development spring out of home-grown initiatives and that governments can benefit from connecting programmes to locally defined goals and needs.
Dr Kidd added that the scope remained to intensify efforts to protect the human rights of participants in all aspects of sport and protect vulnerable groups including women and children from violence and abuse.
CABOS was established in 2005 following the Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting in Athens.
Its members are appointed by the Commonwealth Secretary-General and serve four-year terms.
They are drawn from every region of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Games Federation, the Commonwealth Youth Caucus and the host government of the Commonwealth Games
CABOS advises the Commonwealth Secretariat to support their work with Commonwealth governments to strengthen sport policy, particularly with respect to SDP. SDP involves using sport to help realise development goals, including basic education, gender equality, the reduction of non-communicable diseases and the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, responding to the recommendations, backed the move towards creating a more lasting impact by embedding sport in development: “We are far removed from any kind of band aid organisation, whatever we do with young people it is supposed to in the end be internalised and embedded.”
The CABOS meeting included presentations from: Debbie Lye, International Director of the UK Sports Council and Chair of the United Nations SDP International Working Group; a Commonwealth Youth Caucus representative; and participants from Commonwealth countries including Ghana, India, Papua New Guinea and Trinidad and Tobago among others.
CABOS members made a site visit to the non-governmental organisation Fight for Peace to learn about the organisation’s efforts to use sport for conflict resolution.
The CABOS meeting was preceded by an SDP Expert Working Meeting on 2 April 2012 at Marlborough House.
Meeting participants contributed to the Secretariat’s efforts to develop guidelines to serve as a reference point, analysis instrument and planning tool at policy-level among member states seeking to strengthen SDP. The development of these guidelines was requested by Commonwealth sports ministers when they met in Delhi in 2010.
The Commonwealth Secretariat co-ordinates its SDP work with key international bodies including the Commonwealth Games Federation, the UN Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group and Sport and Development Platform, and leading Commonwealth governments in this area.