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WPDI Showcases its Peace Through Sports Program at an International Conference in Oxford

December 2018 – Last Friday, WPDI participated in the Sports and Digital Diplomacy Colloquium. The event was held in Oxford, in the United Kingdom, and sponsored by the University of Oxford’s Digital Diplomacy Research Group and the University of London’s School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS), in partnership with Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, which is the group responsible for organizing the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

WPDI’s inclusion in the event, which aimed to increase understanding on the role of sports in diplomacy in the 21st century, was symbolic of our efforts to contribute to the global debate on key international issues.  The 85 attending delegates represented a wide array of stakeholders, which included those from governments, corporations like Facebook, NGOs, UN organizations such as UNESCO, the UNHCR, and the High Commissioner on Human Rights. Presentations considered the strategies of various governments and corporations related to the intertwined nature of diplomacy and global events like the World Cup. To that extent, H.E. Hassan al-Thawadi, the Secretary-General of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, noted how “sports can be a powerful vector to promote the Sustainable Development Goals.”

At the colloquium, WPDI was represented by its Senior Strategic Advisor, Jacques Plouin, who highlighted our Peace Through Sports program and its connection to grassroots diplomacy. Indeed, he discussed how, through sporting events like football matches, WPDI mobilizes youths in fragile and conflict-affected places in South Sudan and Uganda and, through those events, is able to successfully instill in them values of peace, respect for rules, and mutual respect and tolerance. Many other delegates expressed interest in the program and WPDI’s approach, which demonstrates the importance of our work on the ground as well as the achievements WPDI and its partners have secured in those places.