National Human Rights Institutions Event: Opportunities to engage with sport

Human rights abuses can occur in sport, just as in any other sector. In sport, there have been human rights abuses in the form of discrimination, including sexism, racism, or homophobia, harassment and abuse, including the physical and sexual abuse of athletes and corruption. Similar to business, these abuses are outcomes of poor practices in sport. Whilst many business sectors have been engaging with human rights for many years now, the same cannot be said of sport. FIFA was the first sports federation to formally adopt a human rights policy at the international level in 2017. Federations such as the International Olympic Committee, Commonwealth Sport, UEFA, Formula 1 and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie have developed strategies, charters, or position statements to better integrate human rights, but there remains a lot of awareness raising and capacity building to further embed human rights within the sector.

This is where National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) are critical – as the domestic guardians of human rights within their jurisdictions, their expertise, and insight are grounded in the rule of law. As such, NHRIs make a natural ally in this space – allowing the work on sport and human rights to be cascaded down and implemented at a national level.

The purpose of this event held on 11 March 2022 was to bring together NHRIs and introduce them to the world of sport, including developing understanding of:

  1. What human rights abuses can occur within sport
  2. Why this topic is relevant for NHRIs
  3. What work other NHRIs have done in this space, and what they can do to be more involved

The event was hosted by the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Forum of NHRIs, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Unicef UK.

Download the event report in English and French

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