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May 26, 2017

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UN unanimously approves Olympic 'truce' resolution

UNITED NATIONS -- All 193 U.N. member states agreed Monday to co-sponsor a U.N. resolution urging countries to stop all hostilities and observe a truce during next summer's Olympic Games in London.

The General Assembly adopted the Olympic Truce resolution by consensus to loud applause from diplomats in the chamber. British diplomats say it is the first time the biennial action has been co-sponsored by every U.N. member.

The resolution is aimed at creating a violence-free world for competitors and mobilizing young people to the cause of peace. It "urges member states to observe ... the Olympic truce, individually and collectively," throughout next year's games from July 27 to Aug. 12 and the 14th Paralympic games from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9.

The resolution does not specifically discuss civil wars or conflicts between states and non-state forces such as the wars in Afghanistan and Libya.

But the resolution does call on member states to support the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee "to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond the Olympic and Paralympic Games period."

Britain's former Olympic gold-winning runner Sebastian Coe, who now chairs the organizing committee for the London games, told the General Assembly that "the extraordinary level of co-sponsorship ... is a testament to the relevance of the truce and the Olympic Games in a time of global challenges."

International Olympic Committee Vice President Mario Pescante told the General Assembly that the Olympic Truce "reaffirms the role of sport as an antidote to conflicts."

The resolution recalls an ancient Greek tradition which called for a cessation of hostilities to encourage a peaceful environment, ensure safe passage and participation of athletes in the ancient Olympics.

The General Assembly revived the tradition in 1993 and has adopted resolutions before the summer and winter Olympic games since then, though U.N. members have not always honored the truce.

During the last summer Olympics in Beijing in August 2008, Georgia and Russia were fighting a war over the Moscow-backed Georgian province of South Ossetia.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin made no mention of that conflict Monday, but he welcomed the call for an Olympic truce next year and called on all countries to observe it "to achieve reconciliation in regional conflicts during and after the Olympic games." Russia is hosting the next winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.

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