MINEPS IV: A new step towards a convention against dopingDoping, physical education and women in sport are the main themes of the Fourth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Sport and Physical Education (MINEPS IV) which will take place in Athens from December 6-8 at the invitation of the Greek Government. Participants from around 70 countries are expected to attend.
Adolf Ogi, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, Richard W. Pound, President of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Jenő Kamuti, President of the International Committee for Fairplay, and Phil Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, will open the Conference with UNESCO Director-General Koďchiro Matsuura.
A Draft International Convention Against Doping in Sport*, will be studied by Commission I of the Conference. It is the first text on doping that is both universal and legally binding. “More than a repressive instrument,” Mr Matsuura said, “this text will give education and information the prominence they deserve […] about the ill-effects of doping in both physical and ethical terms.”
Participants will tackle a range of questions, such as how the Convention will be enforced, how it will be funded and how it will coexist with existing international instruments**. They will also consider whether articles 35 (relative to countries that are constitutionally federations of states) and 38 (on territorial restrictions) should be kept, changed or removed.
The idea of the new legal instrument was launched during a ministerial round-table meeting at UNESCO Headquarters (January, 2003) that brought together 360 participants from 103 countries. A text was drafted during two intergovernmental meetings (January and May 2004). Observations made during MINEPS IV will be integrated at a meeting scheduled in Paris, from January 10 to 15, 2005. The text will then be submitted to the 33rd session of UNESCO's General Conference (October 2005) with the goal of it being adopted before the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.
Commission II will work on the Strategy for Reinforcing Sport and Physical Education in Education Systems. Several studies have shown that increasing the time students spend at physical education instead of more "intellectual" disciplines results in an improvement, not a decline, of their learning performance. Children who do five hours of physical activity a week have significantly better results than those who have only 40 minutes of physical activity per week***. And yet less than a third of all countries around the world have appropriate sporting facilities, and physical education programmes are overshadowed by other disciplines****.
The dismissal of physical education as a scholastic discipline, the often old-fashioned approach to teaching it, sports policies aimed mainly at creating an elite group of national champions -- all these topics will push those attending MINEPS IV to propose measures to promote sport at school and elsewhere.
Sport and Women is the theme of Commission III. Throughout history, women have been discriminated against in sport. In Ancient Greece, they did not even have the right to watch the Olympic Games. And they had to wait until 1900 to participate in them.
Today, even though the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) numbers 179 States Parties, the presence of women in the world of sport is very unequal from one region to another.
Sport does not feature in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The recognition of the right to sport through a new normative instrument may be discussed during MINEPS IV.
The preparation of the International Year of Sport and Physical Education will also be high on the agenda at MINEPS IV. Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly (November 3, 2003), the year 2005 will be an occasion to promote sport and the ethical values inherent in it.
* The Draft text is available at: (www.unesco.org/education/adoping
** Principally: European Anti-Doping Charter (1984); International Olympic Charter against doping (1988); the European Anti-Doping Convention adopted by the Council of Europe (1989); European Code against Doping (1992); World Anti-Doping Code by the World Anti-Doping Agency (2003).
***World Forum on Physical Activity and Sport, Quebec, 1995 (http://www.unesco.org/quebec/fsport.htm)
****Summit on Physical Education and Sport, Berlin, 1999