22 June 2017 - In mid-June, UNODC experts met with a range of Government officials and non-state actors in Kyrgyzstan to explore ways to expand cooperation in tackling crime and drug use through using sports. The meetings, held in the capital Bishkek, were an important step towards rolling-out UNODC's global initiative which aims to prevent delinquency among at-risk youth as part of the Doha Declaration Global Programme as well as the Office's 2015-2019 Regional Programme for Central Asia.
The initiative focuses on sports to build resilience of youth by enhancing their life skills and increasing their knowledge of the consequences of crime and drug use. Alongside awareness raising activities, a key part of the work is in the form of a sports-based life skills training curriculum - Line Up Live Up - that is currently being tested in Brazil and South Africa before being piloted in other regions, including Central Asia.
During a meeting with the Deputy Director on Youth Policy of the Kyrgyz State Agency on Youth, Physical Culture and Sports, Mirlan Parhanov, cooperation with UNODC to include life skills training in the day-to-day activities of sports coaches was welcomed. The initiative, according to Mr. Parhanov, offers "a very practical and welcome contribution to the implementation of the country's Action Plan for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency for 2017-2030".
The implementation of the work was similarly supported by representatives of the Kyrygz Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, and the Ministry of Interior. Furthermore, a large number of NGOs working on youth development more broadly, and the Football Federation briefed UNODC on their work, which allows the Office to ensure complementarity when planning future activities, and explore partnership opportunities.
Concluding the meetings, Johannes de Haan, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer at UNODC, noted that "sports not only improve mental, physical and social well-being of youth, but also offers a unique opportunity to train life skills to help minimize risk factors and maximize protective factors related to antisocial behaviour, crime, violence, inter-ethnic tension and drug use".
In the coming years, several activities are foreseen within this area. Among these are an active engagement of youth as ambassadors for safe and healthy communities as well as large number of youth-oriented sports initiatives in cooperation with partners to promote life skills, civic values, peaceful societies and a culture of lawfulness.