In 1976, due to the educational and ethical dimensions of sport, as well as its multi-disciplinary nature, Member States entrusted the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with sport policy development.
Indeed, at that time sport emerged as an international policy issue as a result of the boycott of South African Springboks' rugby team (1976-79). Nevertheless, it was shown that sport could be used as a positive policy tool - with ‘ping-pong’ diplomacy (1972). In this context, UNESCO responded by convening the first International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS I).
This Conference played a leading role in the development of the International Charter of Physical Education and Sport (1978), adopted by UNESCO General Conference. This Charter established most notably the practice of physical education and sport as a fundamental right for all, in doing so, placing emphasis on equality and grassroots sport. In this respect, cooperation between stakeholders was encouraged. Nonetheless, the need to protect the integrity of sport from doping, violence, manipulation and corruption had already become an important subject, as evidenced by the length of article 8 of the Charter.
Since then, UNESCO has continued to strengthen its fight for the preservation of sport integrity. In this respect, the International Charter was amended in 1991 to highlight the health benefits of physical activity, and to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities, the protection of children, and the role of sport for development and peace.
The “Declaration of Berlin”, adopted in May 2013 by MINEPS V, invited “the Director-General of UNESCO to consider a revision of UNESCO's International Charter to reflect (their) findings and recommendations” in the three areas of this text: “Access to Sport as a Fundamental Right for All”; “Promoting Investment in Sport and Physical Education Programmes”; and “Preserving the Integrity of Sport”.
In 2015, a new version of this text was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO's Member States. In twelve brief articles, the revised Charter serves as a universal reference on the ethical and quality standards of physical education, physical activity and sport. It also represents a renewed commitment of the international sport community to actively promote sport as a catalyst for peace and development.
The revised version of the Charter provides a framework that orients the stakeholders on certain themes: the recognition of physical education and physical activity as a public property, as well as their role in promoting gender equality, social inclusion, non-discrimination and sustained dialogue in our societies. The new Charter also supports broader policies in favour of grassroots sport, including the concepts of inclusivity, safety and sustainability, as well as the notion of 《civil society》 in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals, as defined in the UN 2030 Agenda — Transforming Our World.
Finally, the economic dimension has not been overlooked because it integrates the different Charter elements.
This new global vision constitutes an essential step in the recognition of the role of sport in society assists the Member States to adopt a global approach in their sports policies and places UNESCO at the forefront of the promotion of values such as sustainable development and peace.
Corporal punishment of children has a long history in many countries and is typically regarded as a mean to teach children discipline and obedience to authorities. Since World War II a growing number of countries have banned corporal punishment. In Germany, laws prohibiting it in schools were released in Eastern Germany in 1949, in Western Germany in 1973. But only since the year 2000, corporal punishment in the family is also banned. An evaluation of the effects of this ban by Bussmann (2004) shows a significant decrease in societal acceptance and in occurrence of physical and psychological punishment behaviors of parents. Nevertheless, the picture is less clear when looking at a causal relationship between corporal punishment ban and occurrence of family violence in various countries (Zolozot & Puzia, 2010).
With regard to sport education and coaching, the ban of corporal punishment seems widely accepted (with possibly a number of unknown cases). Instead, since the beginning of this millennium, there is growing concern about sexual abuse in educational settings, including the sport context. Apart from sexual abuse being legally prohibited, it has been a thematic issue in several initiatives of the German Sports Confederation and its member organizations in order to prevent sexual abuse in sports clubs and coaching groups. These initiatives include a code of conduct, to be signed by coaches and other sport educators, and several individual and organizational preventive measures.
Bussmann, K.-D. (2004). Evaluating the subtle impact of a ban on corporal punishment of children in Germany. Child Abuse Review, 13, 292-311.
Zolozot, A.J. & Puzia, M. E. (2010). Bans against corporal punishment: A systematic review of the laws, changes in attitudes and behaviours. Child Abuse Review, 19, 229-247.
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