UN assembly calls for truce before 2012 Olympics

United Nations: The UN General Assembly called for a truce in the world`s conflicts during next year`s Summer Olympics, an ancient Greek tradition revived in the 1990s but not always honoured by UN members.

A resolution sponsored by host country Britain urged member states "to observe ... the Olympic Truce, individually and collectively" from the start of the Olympics on July 27 to the close of the Paralympics, for athletes with disabilities, on September 9. The two events will be held in succession in London.

In ancient Greece, where the Olympics began, often-warring city-states suspended conflicts for up to three months to enable athletes to travel freely to and from the games.

The idea of proclaiming a truce was resurrected in a General Assembly resolution in 1993. It has been affirmed by the international community at each Olympiad since but has not always succeeded in stopping conflicts.

Russia and Georgia fought over South Ossetia during the last Summer Olympics in Beijing in August 2008.

At a debate on Monday`s resolution, which was adopted without a vote, Russia`s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin joined other speakers in welcoming the truce appeal. Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi.

Presenting the resolution, London Games chief Sebastian Coe said it was impossible to ignore "the continuing spectre of conflict around the world" and "it would be folly to suggest that sport provides a complete answer, a panacea for all our social ills."

"But it can and does help to mend broken communities, rebuild trust, rediscover self-respect, and foster the values at the core of our common humanity," said Coe, a gold-medal-winning runner in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.

Bureau Report

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