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Ogi honoured for bringing peace through sport

Ogi at a "Play for Peace" youth camp in Switzerland

(Keystone)

Former sports minister, Adolf Ogi, has been awarded a human rights prize. The man who handed him the award tells swissinfo why Ogi deserves it.

Ernst Mühlemann says Ogi was honoured for his work as the United Nations Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace.

Ogi on Saturday received the human rights prize from the Swiss section of the International Society for Human Rights, a non-profit organisation whose work is based on the principles of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Society, of which Mühlemann is a member, said Ogi has contributed substantially to the promotion of peace as set out in the Declaration of 1948.

Mühlemann and Ogi go back a long way. They met in the army as conscripts and are both former Swiss parliamentarians, and longstanding political allies.

swissinfo: Why was Ogi awarded the International Society for Human Rights prize?

Ernst Mühlemann: There are very few Swiss diplomats who have a high profile and are well known abroad, and Ogi is one of them. He has taken his UN mandate and used it for more than simply promoting sports. He has also been involved in promoting peace, fairness and basic democratic values.

swissinfo: What connection is there between Ogi the man and his work for human rights?

E.M.: Ogi was a cabinet minister who came from the ranks of ordinary people. He rose to cabinet level through his own efforts and not because he was in any way privileged or part of an elite. To this day Ogi is someone who has remained close to the people.

That is admirable, and it shows that people need freedom and the scope to develop. To attain personal fulfilment, human rights are necessary.

swissinfo: Do you think sport has a role to play in improving human rights, as Ogi contends?

E.M.: Everywhere in the world human rights are still abused. Sport provides an opportunity to show that all people have the same rights. It also shows how teams are built and how team players grow into their roles and responsibilities.

Sport supports teamwork and the spirit of fair play. Without these values, a free society is inconceivable.

swissinfo: Ogi was a sportsman himself. Is he also aware of the less positive aspects of sport?

E.M.: Naturally, Ogi knows that in sport there is a danger of fanaticism. He has travelled the world as an umpire, after all. But Ogi is respected because he comes from Switzerland - a neutral country - and because he's not afraid to pull out the yellow card or, if he must, even the red one.

Key facts

Adolf Ogi was director of the Swiss Ski Association in 1975.
He was elected to parliament in 1979.
He was a cabinet minister from 1988-2000.
He has since been engaged as the United Nations Special Adviser for Sport and Development.

end of infobox

In brief

The International Society for Human Rights is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation founded in Germany in 1972.

It has 35,000 members worldwide.

The Swiss section of the International Society for Human Rights was founded in 1982 and has about 300 members. Its prize is awarded every second year.

end of infobox


(Adapted from German by Kathleen Peters), swissinfo.ch


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