UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- The UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) on Monday launched a global program aiming to promote the security of sporting events and started its first expert group meeting.
At launch of the "Global Programme on Security of Major Sporting Events, and Promotion of Sport and Its Values as a Tool to Prevent Violent Extremism," Vladimir Voronkov, undersecretary-general of the UNOCT, said sport events, especially those in which international famous athletes participate, have been for a long time a preferred terrorist target.
Recalling the attacks against the 1972 and 1996 Olympics, and the bombings during the 2008 Sri Lanka and 2013 Boston marathons, he stressed it should not come as a surprise that terrorists aim to destroy what sport represents.
As sport has played a significant role in the dissemination of positive values across civilizations and cultures, he said, the international community has a moral obligation to protect and promote sports.
Voronkov emphasized that protecting major sporting events entails multi-level cooperation and coordination, as well as complex security and policing arrangements, including securing locations, cybersecurity, crisis planning and management, and strategic communication.
According to UNOCT, the program will set up a Global Digital Network of National and Regional Focal Points to facilitate the exchange of information, good practices and experiences for operationalizing procedures.
It will also develop specialized training curricula and technical assistance for major event security planning, and provide a capacity building framework for policy makers, law enforcement and security operators.
The launch of the program was followed by a two-day closed international expert group meeting.
"The outcomes of this expert group meeting will also feed into a compendium of global guidelines to assist (UN) member states in organizing major sporting events," said Voronkov.
Led by UNOCT, the program was launched in partnership with the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), and the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS).
It is also developed and implemented in close consultation with the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and other relevant UN entities, and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).
As of Monday, the program is funded by Qatar, the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund (UNPDF, an initiative of China), and South Korea.
High Representative for UNAOC Miguel Moratinos said his alliance will capitalize on its network of youth-led organizations to implement a number of activities, including the development of a smartphone app in connection with major sporting events as well as a handbook on guidelines on the role of sport in empowering youth in preventing violent extremism.
Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas, director of UNICRI, said her office could bring 15 years of experience in assisting member states in the production of major events to the global program.
Since 2006, she said, "we have successfully pioneered many actions that resulted in a large knowledge capital and wide global network," which include a security planning model and a handbook to assist the establishment of public-private partnerships to protect vulnerable targets.
Addressing delegates to the launch, she said, "thanks to your contribution and support, we will soon achieve the objectives to finalize these guidelines to the benefit of all (UN) member states."