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ICSS participates in the ASEAN-UN Regional Youth Forum on Preventing Violent Extremism through Sport

The Doha-based International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) took part in the Regional Youth Forum on Preventing Violent Extremism through Sport held recently in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Regional Youth Forum was jointly organized by the United Nations Global Programme on Security of Major Sporting Events and Promotion of Sport and its Values as a Tool to Prevent Violent Extremism (“Global Sports Programme), led by UNOCT and its partners, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), and the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), as well as the ASEAN Secretariat, through the endorsement of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Sports (SOMS).

The Forum, which was held at the Conference Centre of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP), brought together youth leaders from ASEAN Member States, athletes, senior experts on youth, education and sports and representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs), the Royal Thai Police and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

In his opening remarks, Mr. Valerio de Divitiis, Programme Coordinator for the UNOCT Global Sports Programme underlined the significance of the ASEAN-UN Regional Youth Forum on Preventing Violent Extremism through Sport. He highlighted that young people from across the ASEAN region help achieve peace and security objectives, using sport and its values to build resilience to violent extremism.

In his opening statement, Mr. Hernan Longo, UNOCT Regional Programme Coordinator for South-East Asia, contextualized the event as part of UNOCT’s and the wider UN system’s initiatives to engage and empower youth in PCVE efforts.

Addressing the Opening Session on behalf of the ASEAN Secretariat, Dr. Roger Yap Chao Jr, Assistant Director and Head of Education, Youth and Sports Division, highlighted the recently adopted ASEAN Declaration on Leveraging the Role of Sports in ASEAN Community-Building and Achieving the SDGs. The strategic document declares a commitment to explore innovations to enhance the contribution of sports to ASEAN Community-building as well as the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda through the inclusion and empowerment of societies through sports. He further emphasized the critical role of youth with the support of government stakeholders in using sports in the region as a platform to promote peace, in line with ASEAN’s initiatives on preventing and countering the rise of radicalization and violent extremism.

During his intervention, the Chair of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Sport, Dr. Niwat Limsuknirun, Director General at the Thailand Department of Physical Education, commended the organization of the Forum, congratulated the youth participants for their enthusiastic commitment and stressed how investing on sport leads to positive results for peace across the ASEAN region.

Mr. Massimiliano Montanari, CEO of ICSS, said: “This Youth Forum provides a precious opportunity to align fresh ideas of youth leaders with the inspirational role of experienced policy and decision-makers on how to utilize sport to prevent violent extremism and to optimize the opportunities offered by major sporting events to integrate community at risks. Youth leaders play a fundamental role in enhancing national and international policies, particularly when they are related to a topic which is essential for their life, like sport.”

Mr. Pok Leaksmy, an Advisor to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports from Cambodia, emphasized that major sports events are an opportunity for positive messaging. “My country will host South East Asia Games in 2023. We will work for this event to be a platform for positive messaging to young people in across the region, inspired by the findings of today’s forum and the Global Sports Programme. Sport is more than a game and its values to foster peaceful society and prevent attraction to violent extremism”.

Ms. Sophia Valencia, a youth participant from the Philippines, expressed her enthusiasm about being a part of a pivotal movement that could legitimately bring about change in the current society. She also highlighted the consensus reached by the day 1 forum, where youth leaders and athletes agreed that PVE policy recommendations must have key points on representation, accessibility, inclusivity, and positive values. Valencia expressed her confidence on the youth participants’ ability to present feasible, groundbreaking, and progressive policy recommendations.