6th April – A day to celebrate the contribution of sports towards peace and development!

6th April – A day to celebrate the contribution of sports towards peace and development! 2560 1240 our civic space

6th April – A day to celebrate the contribution of sports towards peace and development!

Since 2014, the 6th April has been named the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace. It has been created by the United Nations to acknowledge the positive contribution of sports towards social change, community development, peace and understanding between cultures and people.

For many children and young people around the world, sport represents the unique platforms for positive socialisation and development. It has been recognized as one of the major contributors to the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations. It is a fundamental right and a meaningful tool to create interaction, raise voices and develop civic competences.

Together with the partners from the Here to Stay project we strive to maximise the positive contribution of sport in the development of individuals and communities. The sport in itself has always proven to be an authentic space for gathering, expression and healthy behaviour. In this regards and thanks to a number of dedicated interventions, our commitment is to increase the positive outcomes of sports.

Firstly, we provide free and equal access to young people, who may not have the means to join an affiliated sports activity. The activities provided are offered regardless of the sportive ability, gender or social background. We are devoted to create an equal playing field in all of the activities we offer.

Our intervention also allows the young people to develop themselves during their practise of the sport, through a number of approaches that guides the participants to better communicate with each other, to find compromises, to reflect on a situation, to determine their own rules but also accompanies the participants in giving each other constructive feedback and positive encouragement. We are therefore also addressing a gap in the traditional schooling system, where children are often too confined in a firm and non-progressive model of education that rarely allows them to progress differently than in a competitive and individualistic mind-set.

The sport can also be an effective tool to prepare young people towards employment and gain essential soft skills, which are more and more demanded on the job market. Training and playing can teach participants to make better decisions as they face different choices on and off the pitch, to adapt to new situations as they experience changes in a game plan and in life, to control their emotions as they can undergo through peaks in frustration or stress during a match or at school, or simply to better reflect your opinion in public after a match as with colleagues at work. The panel of skills that can be taught through sport is vast and provides an ideal preparation for the active and responsible life at work, in society among peers and family.

We are therefore unanimously convinced as a consortium of European partners of the tremendous power that sport can have on the lives of young people around the world. We are celebrating this day with prospect, as we are facing an exceptionally challenging time for the practise of sport and looking forward to be back on the fields as sport is here to stay!

Written by INEX




Covid-19 Affects Civic Space in Hungary, Poland and El Salvador

Covid-19 Affects Civic Space in Hungary, Poland and El Salvador 700 350 our civic space

Covid-19 Affects Civic Space in Hungary, Poland and El Salvador

Utrecht University research shows how measures to combat Covid-19 have limited people’s freedoms and rights in Hungary, Poland and El Salvador.

Covid-19 affects the lives of many. But the responses of governments to fight the pandemic may have even more profound consequences. This is not just an issue of health or of the economy, but also of rights and freedoms. In many places, measures taken have heavily affected civic space – that is the freedom people have to express and organise themselves collectively. Two new in-depth country cases studies in Utrecht University’s research project Civic Space under Attack, led by dr Chris van der Borgh and prof dr Antoine Buyse, track what happened in Hungary, Poland and El Salvador in the past half year.

In a nutshell, the review of measures taken show that where civic space was already under pressure before the outbreak of the pandemic, the situation was exacerbated by the measures to fight Covid-19. Sometimes as side effects of restrictive lockdowns, states of emergency or polarizing political discourse, but very often also by using the need to fight the disease as a cover to curtail civil society and curtail critical voices all in one go. The case studies track how civil society and citizens were affected by such government measures and shows how people managed to reclaim space for debate in creative ways, from protesting in cars to creating new online spaces.

Poland and Hungary – comparing two illiberal regimes
Research student Adam Dargiewicz looked into the measures taken by two European illiberal governments in Hungary and Poland. His analysis shows that the emergency powers deployed in Hungary carry a higher potential of becoming weaponized against independent societal actors than in Poland since their scope is more far-reaching. the pandemic in both countries might lead to the solidification of the already existing anti-civil society tendencies rather than to the development of a completely new approach. But, the situation in both countries vividly shows that organizations, grassroot movements and journalists presented great resilience and creativity, and maintained their capability to uphold and rearrange civic space. 

El Salvador
Research student Welmoed Barendsen investigated the volatile situation in El Salvador. While the government’s response was rapid, it was also very strict (mandatory lockdowns, containment centres) and unpredictable and the means deployed were at times violent and based on unclear legal grounds. The populist president has tried to discredit virtually everyone (academics, religious leaders, human rights activists, business leaders and journalists) critical of his policies. At the same time, this report also shows that civil society actors continue to defend, contest and conquer civic space, from journalists distributing food to crowdfunding campaigns. In the context of democratic backsliding in El Salvador, which started well before Covid-19, the pandemic seems to have had had an accelerating impact.

Earlier, the project produced a bibliography with the newest reports and literature on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on civic space. This offers a systematised overview with a summarising introduction on the key issues involved. Many of these also feature in the now released case studies.

Story by Utrecht University

Bulgaria Policy Brief

Bulgaria Policy Brief 2560 1707 our civic space

On February 5, we posted a story about the sexual education of youth in Bulgaria. Through this story, you get insight in how an innovative research project helps young people get a better understanding of sexuality. A gap of knowledge that exits, because of a lack of proper sexual education in Bulgarian schools. You can read the full story here

Click here to view the full Bulgaria Policy Brief that was written in regard to the sexual education of youth in Bulgaria.

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