UNESCO has been involved in the field of Physical Education and Sport (PES) since the early 1950s, when PES was placed high on the agenda for cooperation and development. UNESCO was chosen as the appropriate organisation to take charge of its promotion and institutionalisation. In 1952, the 7th session of UNESCO’s General Conference authorized the Director-General to conduct a survey with Member States and appropriate international organizations with a view to submitting “detailed proposals for action to be taken by UNESCO to assist in the development and improvement of athletic sports for educational purposes.”
The first Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS I), held in Paris in 1976, represents the starting point of UNESCO’s institutional efforts in physical education and sport. As a result, in 1978, two important international cooperation mechanisms were established, such as an International Charter on PES and the Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport, CIGEPS. In the early 1990s, the end of the Cold War had radically changed the world political context, and Member States started to push for new orientations in PES policy. As a result, an external evaluation of UNESCO’s activities in PES was undertaken in 1993-94. MINEPS III [PDF, 3747 KB] in Uruguay, 1999 and MINEPS IV [PDF, 184 KB] in Greece, 2004 were organised to reposition the primary goal of UNESCO in strengthening the educational and social dimensions of PES.
A new period began in the history of CIGEPS in 1997, when UNESCO’s General Conference adopted the Committee’s new Statutes. These established the creation of a Permanent Consultative Council, a body composed of several NGOs and other sport-related institutions, which was to ensure a greater participation of civil society, and the sport movement in particular, in the works and decisions of CIGEPS.