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IN Director, Debbie Lye, addresses International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development

The 3rd joint United Nations (UN) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development (SDP) opened on Wednesday June 5th at the UN’s headquarters in New York, USA, in the presence of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and IOC President Jacques Rogge.

Debbie Lye, UK Sport’s International Development Director and Director of IN and Chair of the UN Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group, presented on the work of a new global coalition to promote Safeguarding and Protection in Sport to tackle the abuse that some of the millions of children, young people, women and marginalised groups who play sport around the world face on a daily basis.

She highlighted the tribulations faced by children, women and vulnerable adults in all spheres of life where they are all too often subjected to forms of physical or mental violence, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse. Failure to acknowledge that harm happens is the biggest obstacle to change. The positive news is that international sport is acknowledging the problem and taking action to make sport a safe and enjoyable experience for children.

Lye described how, in 2012, a group of organisations working internationally in sport, development and safeguarding came together to look at how sports provision could be made safer. This Safeguarding and Protection Coalition is led by 11 organisations including UK Sport, UNICEF, CPSU, Keeping Children Safe, the Commonwealth Secretariat, Women Win, Right to Play, Sport and Development, Comic Relief and Beyond Sport.

Drawing on the learning and experiences of the Keeping Children Safe Consortium, these organisations have developed a draft set of safeguarding standards. The purpose of these standards is:

• To help create a safe sporting environment for children wherever they participate and at whatever level
• To provide a benchmark to assist sports providers and funders to make informed decisions
• To promote good practice and challenge practice that is harmful to children
• To provide clarity on safeguarding children to all involved in sport

The next step is to trial the standards with 40 organisations worldwide before finalising the standards.

As a leader of this project UK Sport is supporting partner organisations to implement the standards and using its networks to gather momentum around safeguarding in sport.

Following the presentation UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon praised the International Inspiration programme.

Also in attendance at the 3rd International SDP was Hugh Robertson, Minister of State for Sport and Tourism. He spoke about International Inspiration, and was congratulated by the Ugandan National Olympic Committee (NOC) secretary general on a fantastic international legacy for London 2012 in the shape of International Inspiration and thanked him for the strong support there had been from UK Sport for communities scarred by 20 years of civil war in Northern Uganda.

Lye said: "It was an honour to speak at the 3rd International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development.  The need for safeguarding and protection of children is a theme that casts a long shadow over the sporting world, where so many have devoted their personal and professional lives to giving children access to sport. I highlighted the work of the global coalition led by UNICEF UK and UK Sport, and was delighted that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, IPC President, Sir Philip Craven and Minister Hugh Robertson were impressed by the action that this UK led coalition is taking to make global sport safer."