During the Cold War the world was divided into the Western alliance and the Eastern Alliance and owing to the deterrence power of nuclear weapons. While the conflict between capitalism and socialism was flourishing, cultural and social life was affected as well, as both superpowers cultivated a fear for the other and tried to portray its system in an attractive way.
Meanwhile, CISM was following the trend in the world in sports science and struggled for the quality of performance, though with the different aim of bringing together soldiers on the sport field under the motto of “Friendship through Sports”. CISM was regularly organizing sports science symposia and had created a special committee working on this matter, the CISM Academy. The Secretary General of CISM was even elected as a member of the Executive Board of the International Council of Sports Science and Physical Education or ICSSPE, at that time called "International Council of Sport and Physical Education”.
CISM realized the importance of the collaboration with other institutions, it continued working for the cause of peace in the world. For example, one of the earliest memorandums of understanding, signed by CISM, took place in 1959. CISM endeavoured on the convention with the People-to-People Committee, which had been established just few years earlier by the USA in order to improve relationships with other countries in a way that common people would be involved. The People-to-People Committee announced that “governments are frequently suspected of having some ulterior motive, whereas, when common people exchange mutual interests, the resulting friendship is usually genuine. Most sportsmen are common people. In addition good sportsmen, because they have learnt to practice “fair play”, and because they are so many of them, have a tremendous potential as lay-ambassadors of good will”. Since then, CISM has found fields of cooperation with the International Olympic Committee, different sports federations, the United Nations, the General Association of International Sports Federations, among others. In 1965 authorities of CISM had the honour to visit the Pope Paul VI, who stressed the importance of sport in the development of mutual understanding and the sense of universality between nations.
As in 1991, with the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the Cold War ended, the international structure turned from the bipolarity to unipolarity with the United States of America as the only remaining superpower. The common enemy was non-existent. Though, the initial optimism for enjoying a more peaceful world was shuttered by humanitarian failures, like Somalia and the genocide in Rwanda. The presently growing number of conflicts in the world is characterized by rising prevalence of non-state actors, civil wars and terrorism. Undoubtedly, after 11 September 2001 (9/11) security has become a major concern. CISM was directly impacted by all these developments. The dissolution of the USSR brought CISM 15 more members in a short period of time, from 1992 to1995. The message of peace was always present, as in 1995, CISM organized 1st Military World Games in Rome.
The event was symbolically devoted to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the end of the 2nd World War. Having learnt objective of CISM, the Pope John Paul II organized an audience for 7000 participants of this event. The Pope stressed the paradox of soldiers coming together (fighting) for peace, as he affirmed that the Games constituted “a new form of dialogue amongst the militaries of the world. You could even call it a new philosophy engendering a veritable culture of peace”. In fact, the ruling idea can be summarized in the phrase, which was quoted by Italian magazines the following days, “Guerra alle guerre”, which means “war to wars”. Meanwhile, CISM continued to co-operate with the IOC, as in 1998, the Treaty of Collaboration between IOC and CISM was signed with the corresponding aims of promoting peace in the world with the means of sport friendship and solidarity among nations.
The next biggest sport for peace event took place in 1999, in Croatia, just few month after the Kosovo war and 4 years after the Croatian War of Independence. The Croatian CISM Delegation, having been entrusted with the organization of the 2nd Military World Games in Zagreb, prepared the event, gathering 4000 participants coming from over 80 countries, in just 20 months.
After having successfully reinforced the Military Games, CISM strove to develop other important projects and committed itself to a larger participation on initiatives related to the sport and peace.
As the United Nations proclaimed the year 2005 as the International Year of Sport and Physical Education, CISM contributed with various initiatives. In April, in Mantova, the Italy Delegation to CISM organized the Sport for Peace Seminar “Preventing Conflicts and Maintaining Peace: The Role of Sport”. It gathered representatives from over 20 countries, international organizations like the United Nations, the International Olympic Committee, the European Union and the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF).
This first official step of CISM in the international sport for peace movement played a major role in the recognition of CISM as a valuable actor in this field. In that occasion, the former President of the Shooting Technical Committee of CISM, Lieutenant Colonel Borje Johanson from Swedish Armed Forces, having been involved in CISM for 25 years, reported on his experience in Liberia, during the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in 2003 and 2004. Despite of the destroyed infrastructure and the poor humanitarian condition, people practised running and playing football, he realized the importance of sport in Liberia and worked for giving possibility to people to practice sport and providing the boys, the fighters, with “something useful to do instead of harassing the population and making trouble”.
The Mantova Seminar opened the possibilities of co-operation and partnership with other international organizations and signaled the readiness of CISM to act on Sport, Peace and Development fields. Participants unanimously agreed that sport could play a role in the prevention of conflicts. Brigadier General Lucas, CISM Vice-President for Americas, stressed out the importance of participation of soldiers in the rehabilitation and working for humanitarian objectives, as missions cannot be restricted only to military purposes any more. These responsibilities would allow soldiers on peace keeping missions to work with local population.
The President of CISM at that time, Gen Gianni Gola, took part at the 2nd Magglingen Conference in December 2005 and introduced CISM to other Sport for Peace stakeholders. Owing to this effort and in recognition to activities and potential of CISM, the Magglingen Call to action invited also the Armed Forces to use sport for promoting friendship and for building peace and security.
On 18 February 2006 the CISM Day Run was started. At the moment, it mobilizes for running in the name of “Friendship through Sport” over 600.000 soldiers. The event has been also opened for civilian participants, and has been yearly organized since then, always increasing the number of participants. In August 2006, following the Mantova declaration and the Magglingen Call to action, Colonel van Meurs convened the 2nd “Sport for Peace” Platform, uniting participants from CISM member nations, NATO, the Civil-Military Co-operation Centre of Excellence (CIMIC) and the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. This meeting resulted in the organization of the “Friendship Games” in 2006, among the former Yugoslavian Republic, and in the creation of the flyer “Sport – a Tool for Peace”.
The peace message has been accepted very seriously in Africa. In December 2006, during the 6th edition of the African Military Football Cup “CAMFOOT 6”, organized by the Cameroon Delegation to CISM, in the stadium filled with thousands of spectators and in the presence of the President, banners with slogans, like “Military sports at the service of peace in Africa” and “YES to peace and NO to war”, were brought in by children.
Football is very special sport in Africa. It is played even at times of conflicts. The novelist Henning Mankell observed that, for instance, in Angola during the civil war the football was played everywhere, sometimes by using balls made of most unimaginable materials, like and old T-shirt, fishing net, or a handbag filled with grass. Once he quoted that “War could never kill soccer in Angola. The soccer fields were demilitarized zones, and the face-off between teams conducting an intense yet essentially friendly battle served as a defence against the horrors that raged all around. It is harder for people who play soccer together to go out and kill each other”.
Besides the above-mentioned sport activities, there were several other projects being established. Additionally, sport and peace events, like volleyball competition among belligerents and military observers in Sudan, in April 2006, and the social inclusion sport activities projects in Brazil named “Armed Forces in Sport”, which since 2003, have been being organized under the umbrella of other organizations, but also with the support, knowledge and network possibilities of CISM.
In May 2007, the IOC organized the “Forum on Sport for Peace and the Olympic Truce” in Olympia, Greece. The recommendations of the Forum, directed to the IOC, National Olympic Committees and Non-governmental organizations, were summarized in ten points. Point 9 urge “to continue pursuing close relationships with CISM, other international sports organisations, and the IOTF/IOTC, in order to promote the cause of peace through traditional and innovative initiatives, especially at the 4th World Military Games in Hyderabad in October”.
Just before the 4th edition of the CISM Military World Games, on 7 October 2007, NATO under the patronage of the Secretary General of NATO and the Secretary General of CISM organized the second NATO Partnership Running Festival in Budapest, Hungary. The aim of this running competition was “to create a symbolic bridge between the Alliance and the Western Balkans”.
The next huge event devoted for peace – the 4th CISM Military World Games – took place in India, Hyderabad in October 2007. For the first time in history it gathered on the sports field 6000 soldiers and representatives from 101 armed forces. The Games served as a perfect occasion for the organization of the International Forum on Sport for Peace, which produced the Hyderabad Declaration.
In March 2008, CISM Secretary General and CISM Special Project Officer met representatives from the Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence or CCOE. This centre is a multinational sponsored, NATO accredited, institution providing expertise on Civil-military co-operation (CIMIC) for civilian and military customers. Among the other points of agreement, participants consented that “sports projects are an excellent tool to promote peace, being a meeting place to win the local hearts and minds“. CCEO representatives gave valuable advice about conditions and partners when using sport in post-conflict areas. Thus, the flyer “Sport – A tool for Peace” is created taking into account suggestions of CCEO.
In parallel to these activities, CISM took the contact with the permanent supporter of the development, sport and peace initiatives – the International Federation of Football Association - FIFA. Recognizing the potential of the cooperation, FIFA financially sustained CISM for development and solidarity purposes. CISM proposed to invest this contribution into the “Open the Gates and Bring the Children in” projects.
Being a constant supporter of development initiatives, FIFA committed to the financial contribution. In practice, each initiative is uniting CISM, FIFA, the Armed Forces and the National Football Federations. In practice, CISM and FIFA offer a CISM delegation a certain amount of money for starting the initiative and the delegation should look for other partners. In this way, the budget of the competition should be multi-folded.
One of the most successful post-conflict events organized by CISM took place in Serbia, Belgrade, 13-18 April 2009, when the CISM Serbian delegation organized the 1st CISM Futsal Cup for Peace in a close partnership with FIFA. In fact, the activity was a result of a long lasting effort and resultant of the successful initiative undertaken in 2006 with the “Friendship Games”. It is a six-year project and, in 2011, happened the 3rd edition, in Novo - Mesto Slovenia.
In 2010, CISM definitely confirmed its role in Sport and Peace movement by organizing the 1st CISM Winter Military World Games. Some 700 athletes, coaches and delegates from 40 nations could share the environment of peace in the ancient and historic city of Aosta, where more than 2,000 years ago, the Romans built a triumph arc to celebrate their victory and the peace in that region.
In the framework of the 1st CISM Winter Military Games, was organized the 2nd CISM Sport for Peace Forum, where some of the most important authorities from this movement discussed the Forum subject: “From positive initiatives to systematically integrated programs”. At the end, all participants were invited to join the highest authorities, civilian and military, and sign the “CISM Aosta Call-to-Action 2010 on Sport for Peace” which summarized the common wishes and urged all institutions to formally establish a bilateral and mutual agreement in order to undertake programs aimed at sharing good practices and effectively implementing Sport for Peace programs.
In 2010 it was created the CISM World Cadet Games, which are the international multi sports competition organized every two years and opened to the current military students/cadets of Land Force Academies, Naval Academies, Air Force Academies, and other Military Academies (Gendarmerie, etc).
CISM committed itself to giving a special meaning to the event and to deeply connecting it to a specific educational concept. Workshops, forums, educational seminars shall be integrated in each edition of the CISM World Cadet Games in order to offer to all participants the possibility to exchange some concepts of military training, to inspire and get inspired by the programs of other military academies, to acquire valuable theories that they will use for their future commitments, as well as sensitize the future military leaders the role of sports in the peace-building process.
The 5th World Military Games was held in Rio, from 16 to 24 Jul 2011. The motto of the Games was “The Peace Games” and all concerned activities embodied the sense and the spirit of peace through sports. From its mascot Arion (the one who has energy) with his Peace Troop to the logo shape, the medal presented in celebration of the Victory Day, the commemorative Games stamp, the volunteers program, culminating with the theme for the Ceremonies of the Games (Opening and Closing), everything was used to carry an important peace message to be addressed worldwide.
Already in October 2011, the CISM Secretary General, Col Alexandre Morisod, decided to enhance the level of the Solidarity and Peace structure at the CISM HQ by creating a new position: the Manager of Solidarity and Development that encompasses also Sport & Peace matters. Most recently it was appointed a specific manager for Sport and Peace projects.
The most recent activity that strengthens the importance and the power of sport and peace message organized by CISM was the 6th World Military Games in Republic of Korea, from 9 to 12 Oct 2015. In keeping with the principles of CISM, the 6th WMG 2015 was designed to promote friendship amongst the world’s military personnel. The 6th WMG 2015 had the following vision:
Creating friendship and Solidarity through sports.
Creating world peace through communication and harmony.
Creating humanity trough honor and peace.
Despite all effort presented, the future seems to be challenging and CISM is preparing itself to face the upcoming projects on Sport and Peace.