By Nick Butler

IOC and UN officials following the meeting in Lausanne today ©IOC/Christophe Moratal"Increased collaboration" will take place between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United Nations (UN) following a meeting in Lausanne today between respective chiefs Thomas Bach and Ban Ki-moon.

It comes after a period of strong relations between the two bodies, with Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary general since 2007, giving the opening address of the IOC Session in Sochi earlier this year before a "historic agreement" was signed in New York in April.

During a one-hour bilateral meeting today, the two leaders discussed a number of issues, as well as the joint action being taken by the two organisations on various concrete projects.

"We believe that sport can be a strong driver for social change, and today's visit by the UN secretary-general strengthens once again our determination to use the values of sport to help build a better world," said Bach following the meeting.

"Whether it is with youth, refugees or wherever people are in need we are ready to serve, because sport can play a role, and we want to be at your side."

Ban Ki-moon added: "The UN and the IOC are committed to working together to harness the power of sport to promote development, advance human rights and build peace".

The meeting came two months after the "historic agreement" signed between Thomas Bach and Ban Ki-moon ©IOCThe meeting came two months after the "historic agreement" signed between Thomas Bach and Ban Ki-moon ©IOC

Two of the specific areas up for discussion concerned Africa, specifically the use of sport to improve the plight of the population in the two unstable countries of South Sudan and Central African Republic.

In South Sudan, where war has forced millions of people from their homes and the country is on the brink of famine, the IOC is working with the Sudan Olympic Committee, as well as representatives from the South Sudanese sporting movement to identify and assist athletes with the potential to qualify for Rio 2016.

South Sudan split from Sudan in July 2011 but is not yet a member of the IOC, due to the fact they do not fulfil the membership requirement outlined in the Olympic Charter of having at least five national sporting federations recognised by the respective international body, although hopes are high this situation will change soon.

In Central African Republic, meanwhile, a project by the local National Olympic Committee, but with support from the IOC, has been set up to involve more than 1,800 athletes and sports representatives promoting sport as a tool for peace.

The initiative is also encouraging political leaders to work towards finding peaceful solutions to conflicts, while more concrete activities including sporting competitions between neighbourhoods and regions playing for "fair play and peace" trophies, have also been proposed.

The UN has proposed that a feasibility study be conducted with regard to the implementation of the project.

Using sport to unite war-torn countries, such as South Sudan, is a key aim of the IOC and UN partnership ©AFP/Getty ImagesUsing sport to unite war-torn countries, such as South Sudan, is a key aim of the IOC and UN partnership ©AFP/Getty Images

During the meeting Bach also underscored the IOC's commitment to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, described as a historic opportunity to establish a global framework for sustainable development, before encouraging UN Member States to consider sport as a "cost-effective and valuable tool" for achieving the goals. 

The leaders also discussed the upcoming visit of IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge to Jordan to meet Syrian refugees, with precise details of the trip still to be finalised. 

Rogge, who was replaced by Bach after a 12 year tenure as President last September, was recently appointed as special envoy of the UN secretary general for youth, refugees and sport.

In this role Rogge will support Ban Ki-moon in "advancing peace, development and an inclusive society through sport".

Bach also briefed the the UN chief on the progress being made with regard to Olympic Agenda 2020 in a week where the 14 different Working Groups are duemeet to discuss potential resolutions following thousands of recommendations. 

The meeting ended with an update on the inauguration of the new IOC Sport for Hope Centre in Haiti, which is due to take place in July and be attended by both Bach and Ban Ki-moon.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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