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Human Rights in sports

SPORT AND RIGHTS ALLIANCE

Fans watch as Dirk Kuyt of the Netherlands (L) fights for the ball with Brazil's Oscar during their 2014 World Cup third-place playoff at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia July 12, 2014. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino (BRAZIL  - Tags: SOCCER SPORT WORLD CUP TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)        TOPCUP - RTR3YBND
Fans watch as Dirk Kuyt of the Netherlands (L) fights for the ball with Brazil’s Oscar during their 2014 World Cup third-place playoff at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia July 12, 2014. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino (BRAZIL – Tags: SOCCER SPORT WORLD CUP TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) TOPCUP – RTR3YBND

The Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA) is a coalition of leading NGOs, sports organizations and trade unions. It was founded in early 2015 to address the decision-makers of international sports mega-events to introduce measures to ensure these events are always organized in a way that respects human rights (including labour rights), the environment and anti-corruption requirements at all stages of the process – from bidding, through to the development and delivery phase to final reporting.  The SRA includes Amnesty International, Football Supporters Europe, Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation, and Transparency International Germany.

Categories
Human Rights in sports

HUMAN RIGHTS AND SPORTS : Amnesty’s recommendations

Accommodatie voor arbeidsmigranten die in Qatar werken aan stadions en andere faciliteiten voor het Wereldkampioenschap Voetbal in 2022 © AI
Accommodation of migrant workers working on stadiums and other facilities of the 2022 World Cup Football in Qatar. © AI

Amnesty International has the following recommendations in order to stop or prevent human rights violations related to major sporting events:

• States hosting a major sporting event should ensure rights are not violated in the context of this event.
• The organizing bodies, like IOC and FIFA, should have in place robust due diligence procedures to ensure that the sporting event does not cause or contribute to human rights violations. This means, that they should have a human rights policy, and processes to act on such a policy.

a. Organizing bodies should make clear in the bidding and selection processes that they expect the host states to commit to upholding human rights in the hosting and staging of the sporting event. They should also investigate the human rights risks and the possibilities to minimize these.
b. When considering awarding a major sporting event to a country, they could first look at the risk of human rights violations in the context of hosting and staging the event. If a country has a history of abuses linked to major building projects – for example forced evictions or labour exploitation – there is a risk of repetition. The organizing body should ask the candidate country to provide assurances as part of its bid.
c. Once a country has been awarded a major sporting event, the organizing body should work with the country to develop a risks and mitigation plan.
d. The organizing body should make clear the steps it will take if the host state violates rights in the context of the sporting event.
e. The organizing body should ensure it has independent human rights monitors who can report to it regularly.
f. In all contracts between the event organizers and companies, there should be clear stipulation that the company must respect human rights and operate in a manner consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In the documentation underpinning the awarding of the major sporting event to the host state, there should be specific provisions on the commitment of the host state to ensure human rights are respected and protected in the context of the event. If the host state breaches these provisions, similar sanctions should apply as to breaches of other legal commitments made by the host state to the organizing body.
g. The whole sub-contracting chain involved in the major sporting event should respect human rights. All contracts must therefore carry a human rights clause.
• All companies involved in the hosting or staging of a major sporting event should respect human rights and ensure they are respected throughout their sub-contracting and supply chains as well.

Categories
Human Rights in sports

VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AT SPORTING EVENTS: who is responsible

Voormalig FIFA-president Sepp Blatter maakt bekend aan welk land het Wereldkampioenschap Voetbal in 2022 is toegewezen © Reuters/Hartmann
Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter announces which country gets to organize the 2022 World Cup © Reuters/Hartmann

In relation to major sporting events, like the World Cup or the Olympic Games, Amnesty International distinguishes two forms of human rights violations.

Violations directly related to the staging or hosting of the event. Examples are forced evictions carried out to construct sports stadiums or other infrastructure, or labour exploitation in the construction sector involving people working on sporting event infrastructure.

• Human rights violations that are not directly related to the event, but where there is a risk of increased violations during or in connection with the event. For example, if the host state represses the freedom of expression because the authorities don’t want insurgents to attract attention once the eyes of the world are on the country.

Four parties can be held responsible for these violations.

1. The host state
Naturally, the national government has the ultimate responsibility for human rights violations in its country. It makes no difference whether these violations are committed by the state itself or by “non-state actors” like companies. But the authorities are not the only ones responsible.

2. Organizing bodies
International organizations like FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have a “responsibility to respect” human rights. This means they have to conduct adequate due diligence in order to prevent that organizing the World Cup or Olympics causes human rights violations or contributes to them.

It is legitimate to hold organizing bodies to account on human rights violations related to organizing or hosting a sports event. When the violation is committed by the government or an enterprise that is involved with the event, Amnesty will point out the relationship of the event to FIFA or IOC. In that case, FIFA or IOC should act to end the violation.

Naturally, the influence of organizing bodies is limited when the state violates human rights. Therefore, Amnesty asks the organizers to lay down in advance in binding documents that host countries respect and protect human rights in the context of the sporting event.

Amnesty International will not address FIFA and IOC on the general human rights situation in a country. But we will seize the opportunity of a sporting event to urge the government to take measures against violations.

3. Sponsoring companies
All companies have a responsibility to respect human rights. They have to prevent infringements on these rights and act with utmost care to ensure that their business relations do not have a damaging effect. This is part of the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These principles are not legally binding, but they form a widely accepted standard which was endorsed by the UN Commission of Human Rights.

A company is also responsible for not sponsoring an organization or event that causes human rights violations or contributes to them. We ask sponsors to express their concerns towards the organizer about violations in the context of the sporting event. If the organizer itself commits the violations or is an accessory to them, sponsoring the event is inappropriate and in violation of the responsibility of companies.

4. Companies involved in a sporting event
Companies can be involved in a sporting event in many different ways – from building a stadium to selling merchandise. The same goes for these companies: they have a responsibility to respect human rights.