United Games of Nations is a youth network and youth exchange programme with the goal to promote peace and understanding between people and peoples in Europe and in other parts of the world. It started in Austria in a small village called Mürzsteg in Styria, a Federal Sate of Austria, in September 1989. Since then United Games have been established in seven countries:
Values and principles United Games stand up for
The following values and principles are the organisational fundament of all United Games events, programmes and projects and are considered throughout the planning and organizing process:
International understanding & intercultural learning
We feel that there has to be a counter movement to the nationalism and racism rising again in Europe and other parts of the world. Understanding is something that develops best on a personal level, it should not only be left to politicians who talk about it in international conferences, but should become a common, important issue to everyone of us. Learning, understanding and accepting other cultures and ways of life is the basis of a peaceful coexistence between people and peoples in the future. It gives us the chance of enjoying the diversity of foreign backgrounds and cultural heritage and being proud of our own roots at the same time.
Tolerance & Respect
Among people with many different backgrounds and cultures this is probably one of the most difficult things to achieve. In our events as well as in organisational matters, we want to meet other people with interest and curiosity instead of fear, suspicion and mistrust.
In all the United Games events, programmes and projects it is a fundamental goal to reduce prejudice and to build confidence between people.
Meet and get to know eachother
The best way to reduce prejudice is to make people do things together, make them talk, act and have fun with each other. United Games in all their programmes and projects are supposed to provide the basic conditions for this important process.
Exchange information and learn from each other
Another way to reduce prejudice is to spread and exchange information. United Games are meant to offer people the opportunity to speak about themselves, about how they live, to show their customs and culture to other participants.
Cooperation – working together
Within United Games the principle of working together, not against each other, is vital for developing, planning and carrying out our ideas and visions as well as for choosing programmes for our events and projects. Without a high standard of cooperation between the national United Games Organisations and organizing teams, United Games as a youth festival taking place simultaneously in six European countries, would not be possible. It should give young people participating in UG events an idea how they could cooperate across borders and continents to make this world a better place in the future.
Sustain personal contact and friendship
An important outcome of the different United Games events is that participants become friends with each other. United Games provide organisational structures and conditions to help young people sustain the friendships they have made during the events. One way to do that is to create opportunities for young people interested to be able to meet again within UG projects.
Human Rights are another fundament that is necessary for peaceful, humane coexistence. Every organisation working for peace and understanding has to commit its work to Human Rights. Without respect for every human life there is no chance for true peace and understanding.
The logical consequence of committing oneself to Human Rights is sticking to democratic principles. United Games strive to follow these principles both in its structure and activities.
One fundamental right of a young person is to be heard by adults in power and to give them the chance that their ideas and visions are seriously considered by adults and put into action. All United Games events, projects and programmes are developed, discussed and performed in strong cooperation with young people. Every national United Games Organisation has a young organizing team called ”Young Voices”, who have seat and vote in all decision making boards of United Games on a local, national and international level.
It is common sense that there cannot be peace in the world without the ”little” peace between two people, between neighbours or different ethnic groups, between the rich and the poor. United Games with their activities try to build bridges over the gaps that separate people of our societies. Peace begins with you and me.
An international project for peace and understanding
The main goal is to organise local or regional events on the basis of United Games values. United Games events, projects and programmes will promote human values of democracy, international understanding, human rights, tolerance and peace. The most difficult art of this task, however, is to integrate these values in life so that they become more than just a word or an empty phrase to the participants. A first step is making people understand with body, mind and soul while taking part in the Games events.
The United Games Youth Festival – the mainevent
United Games take place simultaneously every year. Every year at the end of May/beginning of June all UG towns in Europe perform the United Games Youth Festival simultaneously for about one week.
Exchange of youth delegations
All countries involved exchange youth delegations for the United Games Festivals. The young delegates are between 16 and 25 years old.
One common topic every year
All the national United Games Organisations choose one common topic every year which will be the basis to perform the festival on in their countries. Here is a list of the topics chosen so far:
- United Games 1995
”United Nations 50th Anniversary”
- United Games 1996
”From the Fringe to the Centre”
- United Games 1997
”Bridges of Trust”
- United Games 1998
”To Grow Together, Growing Together”
- United Games 1999
- United Games 2000
”For a Culture of Peace” *)
- United Games 2001
”Breaking the Barriers in our Minds for a Culture of Peace”
- United Games 2002
”Be the Change for a Culture of Peace”
*) Since the year 2000 United Games have supported the ”Decade for a Culture of Peace”, which was declared by UNESCO, and have made the term part of the yearly United Games topics.
- United Games 2003 – 2008
United Games – Youth In Action
In line with the EU-program YOUTH the United Games projects have one thing in common: They contain action to improve communities sustainably.
A colourful festival programme – work, fun and action
The festival programme is a balanced mixture of international workshops on youth relevant topics – workshops on theatre, dance, music, photo and video, writing and newspaper etc., leisure time programmes with a lot of fun and action – and all the activities meet in a public presentation for everyone interested.
All equal – all different
Although United Games have always been organised as a common project of seven countries on a commonly chosen topic following common aims, principles and values, it is very important that they maintain their local and national identity in the festivals and thus show diversity and difference as well.
United Games Youth Festivals in other parts of the world
Since 1998, the United Games Youth Festival has also taken place in Bangalore, the capital of the South Indian Sate of Karnataka. United Games India cannot be performed at the same time as in Europe because of the monsoon, but take place at the end of October/beginning of November. In May/June Indian United Games delegations take part in the United Games events in Europe while in October/November European youth delegations participate in the Games in India.
United Games programmes and projects throughout the year
Apart from the main festivals in May/June in Europe and October/November in India, United Games organise international youth meetings and camps throughout the year in UG towns and countries. The camps are organised to follow up processes that were started during the United Games main events.