Crime prevention through sports

As part of its efforts to support the implementation of the Doha Declaration, UNODC launched a global youth crime prevention initiative to build on the power of sports as a tool for peace. The initiative aims to promote sports and related activities to prevent crime and to effectively build resilience of at-risk youth. Strengthening the life skills of youth is a key objective in order to minimize risk factors and maximize protective factors related to crime, violence and drug use. By enhancing knowledge of the consequences of crime and substance abuse and developing life skills, the initiative seeks to positively influence behaviour and attitudes of at-risk youth and prevent anti-social and risky behaviour.

While concluding as part of the Doha Declaration Global Programme at the end of September 2021, UNODC’s global initiative on youth crime prevention through sport continues its activities as part of the organization’s wider crime prevention and criminal justice activities, including in the context of a joint project with International Olympic Committee  (IOC) to ‘Strengthen Youth Resilience through Sport: Using sport to promote positive youth development and social change to prevent crime, violence, and drug use (2022-2025)’.

More information on this is available here.

Sports for development and crime prevention

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development underlines the growing contribution of sports as a tool for peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect. It also highlights the contributions that sport can make to the empowerment of communities as a whole, to individuals (particularly women and young people) as well as to health, education and social inclusion.

More specifically, sports offer an important opportunity for building life skills of at-risk youth that allow them to better cope with daily life challenges and move away from involvement in violence, crime or drug use.

Youth as agents of change

Through partnerships with Governments, sports organizations and civil society, UNODC conducted a range of national and regional youth-oriented awareness raising sports initiatives which further promoted civic values and disseminated the benefits of sport in keeping youth from becoming involved in crime and violence.

Youth were placed at the centre of outreach activities as agents for change. By sharing their experiences on how sports and life skills training helped them to stay away from crime, youth were engaged and reached out to other at-risk youth.

Line Up Live Up

Line Up Live Up - UNODC's evidence-informed and sports-based life skills training curriculum - was designed as a unique tool that transfers the accumulated expertise of the United Nations and other partners in implementing life skills training for crime and drug use prevention to sport settings. 

Through the Line Up Live Up programme, sports coaches, teachers and others working with youth in sports settings wee able to target valuable life skills, such as resisting social pressures to engage in delinquency, coping with anxiety and communicating effectively with peers, through a set of interactive and fun exercises.

The training programme was implemented in twelve countries across the world, ranging from Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East to Latin America and the Caribbean. 

The training programme was implemented as part of the Doha Declaration Global Programme until September 2021 in fourteen countries across the world, ranging from Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East to Latin America and the Caribbean.

The 2020 UNODC report ‘Youth Crime Prevention through Sport: Insights from the UNODC Line Up Live Up pilot programme’ analyses the quantitative and qualitative data collected from routine monitoring and evaluation tools, including youth and trainer surveys, in 11 countries and selected process and impact assessments studies conducted by UNODC. The report places key findings and lessons learned in the context of relevant research on the use of sport for youth violence and crime prevention and provides recommendations on effecting programming and integration of sport in crime prevention and criminal justice frameworks.

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In Uzbekistan, UNODC continues to use sport as a tool for youth resilience and post-COVID-19 recovery

In Uzbekistan, UNODC continues to use sport as a tool for youth resilience and post-COVID-19 recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic has had harmful effects on young people and communities across the world, with factors such as the loss of education and employment opportunities leading to increased risks of crime and stress associated with isolation. In Uzbekistan, where schools have been closed for much of the time since last year March, sport is being used as a powerful tool to bring educators and children back to normal school life. In this context, the Uzbek Ministry of Public Education and UNODC recently initiated a comprehensive sport-based campaign among young people in Kokand city, Fergana Valley. This campaign brought together educators from 40 schools in the region in several gatherings and saw a diverse range of people receive new, interactive tools to address issues around corruption, human trafficking, violent extremism, and integrity and ethics.

Preventing violent extremism through sport: UNODC launches new tools in Central Asia

Preventing violent extremism through sport: UNODC launches new tools in Central Asia

Many parts of the world, including countries in Central Asia, have faced a surge in extremist ideology and radicalization in recent years, particularly among young people, posing a direct threat to peace, stability and development. Given the youthful population across the region and the vulnerability of young people to recruitment by violent extremist groups, it is essential to cater to their needs and put in place preventive actions that will address the root causes of violent extremism.

To counter these challenges, Government and other experts in many countries have developed national policies to address the root causes of violent extremism and devise effective responses.


Holistic crime prevention: The contribution of sport sector towards youth and community resilience

Effective crime prevention should not be the exclusive responsibility of law enforcement and criminal justice systems. Instead, it requires holistic and inclusive approaches that address root causes of violence and crime and involves all relevant sectors of Government, the private sector and civil society actors, including the sport sector and youth. This was the topic of discussion of the side event held on 18 May, during the 30th session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

Building on the UNODC Youth Crime Prevention through Sport Initiative under the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration and its "Line Up Live Up" programme on life skills training through sport, the event raised awareness on the role of sport as an enabler of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, and discussed the role of the sport sector in the context of holistic crime prevention approaches, showcasing good practice examples and promoting multisectoral and innovative partnerships.

A Volunteer from Attil (Line Up Line Up Participatory Video Series: Palestine)

In this piece, Raghda Taweir presents a story about coach Ahmed Kahle, who is volunteering for the junior football team in Attil town in Tulkarm, and his sense of social responsibility and appreciation of sport.