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Athletes coalition calls for human rights to be central to mega-events

Athletes coalition calls for human rights to be central to mega-events
June 28, 2016

UNI World Athletes, the global association for professional sportspeople, have highlighted the significant human rights risks and challenges at every stage of the lifecycle of a major sporting event, flagging past events that have been marked by incidents of forced displacement, workplace deaths and labour rights violations, adverse impacts on the livelihoods of small businesses and street vendors, constraints on freedom of expression, security related abuses, exploitation of children and mistreatment of athletes and spectators.

Believing that these problems have not been adequately addressed by many events and organisers, Head of UNI World Athletes Brendan Schwab explains “the Executive Committee of UNI World Athletes is committed to ensuring human rights are respected within the world of sport.

“This commitment extends beyond the 85,000 players we represent to everyone involved in the delivery of sport.

“As the world players’ association, we cannot tolerate a situation where players are being asked to play in stadia in which workers, though the denial of their fundamental rights, suffered or even died.

“International sporting bodies can wield immense power.

“Too often, that power has been used to advance only the commercial or political interests of the sporting body.

“That power can also be a force for good – to ensure that universal human rights are promoted, respected and fulfilled for everyone that makes sport possible.

“The Mega Sports Events Steering Committee represents a generational opportunity to change sport for the better, and help restore its essential values. We congratulate all stakeholders in committing themselves to this vital initiative.”

UNI World Athletes believe that more effective strategies are needed to prevent, mitigate and remedy abuses of human rights and labour standards associated with major sporting events, from planning through to legacy.

To address these challenges, UNI World Athletes and a diverse group of stakeholders will be participating in a recently formed Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee intended to assess the need for innovative efforts on these issues, including the potential for establishing a new independent centre for human rights learning, legacy and accountability for mega-sporting events.

The Steering Committee, chaired by former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, met recently in Geneva to discuss a series of ‘test track’ activities and plans for a major international conference in October 2016 to reflect on progress and next steps.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, alongside other international instruments such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, constitute the rules of the game for governments, businesses, sports bodies and other actors. Successfully integrating these standards across all stages of major sporting events will require an inclusive approach involving all interested actors including sports federations, local organising committees, governments, sponsors and broadcasters, workers and athletes, through to those representing vulnerable and at risk groups.

5th April 2016 - IAAF ‘CLOSELY MONITORING’ QATAR WORKERS’ SITUATION FOLLOWING AMNESTY REPORT

1st April 2016 - AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS ‘APPALLING TREATMENT’ OF WORKERS BUILDING QATAR WORLD CUP STADIA

13th July 2015 - PRENDERGAST TO TAKE LEAD ROLE AT AUSTRALIAN ATHLETES’ ALLIANCE

7th December 2014 - ARABIAN GULF AGREEMENT ON IMPROVED MIGRANT WORKER CONDITIONS UNLIKELY TO FEND OFF ACTIVIST PRESSURE


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