“This resolution is the first of its kind and underpins the global support to the commitment of South Africa to not just make this another sporting event, but to ensure that it is based on the agenda for peace, development and stability for Africa – in the hope that these benefits will trickle through far beyond the final whistle.”
Well said, if you ask me.
The article goes on to quote Ban Ki Moon, the current UN Secretary General:
“There is great power in this. It is a time to present a different story of the African continent, a story of peace, democracy and investment,” Ban said at a meeting with Danny Jordaan, the organising committee’s chief executive, at a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on 21 October.
Mr. Moon has enjoyed a long career as a diplomat in South Korea’s foreign service. In the article, he mentions South Korea’s history of conflict and their recent and successful co-hosting of the 2002 World Cup with Japan, who the have not enjoyed the greatest relationship with.
“Referring to Korea’s own history of conflict, he said the game of football, more than any other sport, united people and built solidarity and consensus. He said the 2010 event would do the same for South Africa.”
“The UN Secretary General must not only come to the continent when there is war, when he wants to talk about Darfur…He must come to Africa when Africa celebrates, when Africa excels. When there is good news, he must always be there.”
“the World Cup would play an important role in consolidating the new South Africa. The World Cup is a dream that began in 1994, the first year of our democracy, and is part of our ongoing efforts as a nation to build unity in our country.”
He made a great point further stating that:
“Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is creating circumstances that create hope. The legacy of this World Cup embarks on changing the circumstances of many people through its social legacy projects, job creation and advancements in telecommunications and infrastructure.”
With Mr. Moon’s and President Zuma’s recent open declaration of support for the join1goal campaign, I would like to believe these are not empty words. Mr. Jordaan and Mr. Moon both make great points that these games are an opportunity to celebrate South Africa’s (and Africa’s) achievements and to potentially change global perceptions of what South Africa and the Continent are all about. But I sincerely hope that these words are backed up with concrete action and a long-term strategy that will use this event as a catalyst rather than the the cherry to place on top of the cake; the beginning, not a self-congratulatory event to celebrate the job well-done for the last 16 years since the end of Apartheid.
And I say all this being a advocate for the organization. I did a short stint working for a UN organization, the World Food Program in Malawi. I’m a believer in what it stands for and represents. But I’ll also be as vocal a critic as the next person when it comes to their inability to act quickly, their subservience to internal politics which prevent decisive action, and their lack of enforcement power (not their fault; a result of poor design).
With that said, the UN resolution is purely a symbolic gesture. But I hope that the gravity of this gesture is not lost. The UN is the world’s organization to encourage peace, prosperity, and humanity. And football is the world’s games. Let’s hope that our leaders, in business, government, and civil society, use this opportunity to show the global community what South Africa and Africa can accomplish and can offer. This could be a watershed moment for tourists, investors, ex-pats, the global development community, etc. to understand and celebrate the potential that is brimming all across the continent.
Great job United Nations and Mr. Moon. I applaud you! Let’s just hope that this resolution, like so many other (more important) UN resolutions doesn’t go unheeded and placed to the wayside, once the rubber hits the road.
And you can follow Media Club South Africa on Twitter: @MediaClubSA
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