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Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Defence

Reserves (Call Out Order)

The Minister for the Armed Forces (Mr Andrew Robathan): On 16 February 2012 an order was made under section 56(1A) of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable 2,100 reservists to be brought into permanent service as part of defence’s contribution to the safety and security of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

On 7 August 2012 authority was granted to raise the number of reservists to 2,300.

In total 2,258 reservists were brought into permanent service.

Some provided specialist capabilities and expertise to defence’s support to the police and other civil and Olympic authorities, while the majority formed part of the support to Olympic venue security operations; a substantive contribution to what has widely been acknowledged as a successful and positive opportunity to interact with the British public and advertise the nation’s strengths to overseas observers.

The order ceases to have effect on 20 September 2012.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Olympic Truce

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mark Simmonds): I wish to inform the House about the Government’s work on responding to the UN General Assembly’s resolution on the Olympic truce of October 2011.

It was a real honour for the UK to have the responsibility to promote the Olympic truce message. We worked closely on delivering an international response to the Olympic truce, working with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic games, the Department for International Development, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

On 17 October 2011, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office secured unanimous co-sponsorship, by all 193 United Nations member states, for a UN General Assembly resolution on the Olympic truce entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal”. Since then we have taken the conflict prevention and peace ideals of the UN resolution internationally as part of our diplomatic work to build stability overseas.

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The UN resolution calls upon UN member states to undertake concrete actions at local, national, and international levels to promote and strengthen a culture of peace. The unanimous co-sponsorship of the resolution afforded an important foundation for the UK to work in partnership with a broad range of international actors that included Governments, parliamentarians, national Olympic committees, the UN and civil society, including faith groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

We wanted to show that the UN resolution could be translated into international action. Our diplomatic missions across our network and the FCO in London arranged over 70 events and activities which showed how important the contribution of youth, women and those with disabilities is in promoting peace through sport, culture, education and wider public engagement. While activities took place in every continent, we specifically wanted to bring the Olympic truce to life in conflict affected and fragile countries.

For example, in Sri Lanka we hosted a Paralympic-style sports day for disabled soldiers, disabled ex-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (ex-LTTE) combatants and disabled civilians. Sport demonstrated its mediating influence, bringing together former adversaries to understand each others’ perspectives, embracing diversity and encouraging inclusivity. In Khartoum we brought together young people from different communities in Sudan and South Sudan, specifically refugees and residents from Darfur met to play in a football tournament, which supported ongoing work to create a youth football league. In Mindanao, in the Philippines, we co-hosted with the Zamboanga City Government and Zamboanga Football Association “Time out for football”, a football tournament and clinic bringing people together from a diverse range of communities, bridging gaps between Christians and Muslims. In Armenia, Pakistan and Trinidad and Tobago, children portrayed what the Olympic truce means to them through art.

As the Foreign Secretary said when speaking at the international Paralympic inclusion summit on 6 September,

“We wanted to create a legacy that would last a lifetime. On top of the Government’s financial and political commitment to conflict prevention and poverty reduction, we decided to mobilise the ideals of the Olympic truce”.

The UK is the first games host to deliver this level of international ambition for the Olympic truce. The UN Secretary-General, in the presence of the International Olympic Committee, recognised the UK’s Olympic truce work on the eve of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 games. Now others are seeking to build on our experience. We are currently sharing our experience with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser’s Office on sport and development for peace, as well as with Russia, which will next take stewardship of the Olympic truce in 2013, ahead of the Sochi winter games in 2014. This level of international interest, paired with our continued engagement, will help cement our legacy of encouraging future games hosts to promote the ideals of the Olympic truce in their own ways.