Sports governing bodies are “just at the start of their journey” despite a promising year in the field of human rights and Mega Sporting Events, according to the Head of the Children Win Campaign.
During 12 months in which none of the main Mega Sporting Events actually took place, much has been made of the policy advances ‘behind the scenes’ by governing bodies such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and world football’s governing body, FIFA.
This includes human rights criteria being incorporated into a Host City Contract for the Olympic Games for the first time, and FIFA publishing specific guidelines which must be followed by countries bidding to host the 2026 World Cup finals.
Such advances have been welcomed by civil rights organisations such as Terre des Hommes, which co-ordinates the Children Win campaign. However Marc Joly, who heads it, has warned that nothing has actually been achieved yet.
He said: “These changes on paper are vitally important – but, let us be clear, they only constitute the start of the journey. And, one could add, the easiest part of it.
“To have the desired positive impact on the ground, for the affected groups such as workers, children or communities, the new provision in contracts and bidding documents needs to be translated into concrete decisions aiming at identifying the risks in terms of human and child rights, at taking the necessary measures to mitigate such risks, and finally ensuring that victims of potential violations get proper reparation.
“Stakeholders involved in the organisation of Mega Sporting Events are certainly familiar with such processes of risk assessment and management. What many actors are now requesting from sport governing bodies is that these should be applied in the area of the stakeholders’ responsibility to respect human rights in general, and those of children, workers or athletes in particular.”
Joly said: “We must engage in dialogue with the governing bodies at a global level in order to bring about these changes. This is starting to produce results – but this strategy must be complemented at a national and local level in order to be truly effective. Indeed, it is the host cities and/or the national sport organisations which make the decisions which really change the lives of people, of children,impacted by Mega Sporting Events
“Thus, having host cities sensitised to the importance of human and child rights and anti-corruption, should be non-negotiable when seeking the effective implementation of such a framework.”
‘Sustainability’ was the buzz word in Paris’ winning bid to host the 2024 Olympics, especially with regards to biodiversity, carbon emissions and re-using facilities and infrastructure.
Joly believes the IOC have a duty of care to ensure the same level of scrutiny is shown towards the social impact of all future Games, for example to ensure supply chains are free from child labour or that children relocated during construction programmes have proper access to schools and health centres in the future.
He said: “It is important to understand that the prevention of human rights and child rights violations, are key elements when considering the social components of ‘sustainability’. They are just as important as the environmental and economic considerations.
“If an event lasting three or four weeks has life-changing consequences for many thousands of people, surely it should be organised in a way that it does not harm the hosting communities in all their components and above all children. “