Mega Sporting Event organisers have taken major steps forward recently in addressing concerns over human rights, but “implementation and accountability” will be the next hurdles.

That was the clear message from Terre des Hommes General Secretary Ignacio Packer at the Peace and Sport International Summit in Monaco on Thursday (November 24).

Ignacio appeared on stage alongside Federico Addiechi, FIFA’s Head of Corporate Responsibility, during a panel discussion on how global sports events can do more to foster local social, cultural and economic legacies.

Whilst acknowledging that the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games had serious consequences for the indigenous population of Brazil – especially its children – Ignacio noted a recent shift in attitude from FIFA and other sports organisers towards human rights.

“One cannot just trust and hope that Mega Sporting Events will benefit the local population,” Ignacio told delegates. “Past experience has shown us that, if not managed properly, MSE can lead to serious human rights abuses, directly harm children or put them at increased risk. In 2016, human rights violations linked to the organisation of MSE have not been halted.

“But the good news is that sport’s principal global governing bodies, such as the IOC, UEFA, FIFA and the Commonwealth Games Federation, have made explicit human rights commitments and taken steps towards embedding human rights considerations within event bidding and selection processes. The next hurdle will be implementation and accountability.”

Ignacio called for the following principles to be laid down:

  • Respect for human rights and fundamental labour principles to be built into the bidding and selection process for all MSE
  • Every sports governing body, host country and delivery partner to demonstrate respect for internationally agreed human rights and labour standards
  • Mechanisms put in place for accountability and transparency, in order to measure success, ensure remedy and exact consequences when standards aren’t met.

 Specifically, sports governing bodies and organising committees must:

  • Carry out human rights impact assessments in consultation with potentially affected groups, including children and other stakeholders, as well as independent human rights institutions
  • Include a clear stipulation in all contracts with commercial partners that they must respect human rights, labour standards and anti-corruption throughout their supply chain
  • Accept independent outside monitors to receive and act on complaints of human rights abuses.

Ignacio stressed that collaboration is the key when hosts of Mega Sporting Events are facing human rights challenges.

“Many human rights challenges associated with MSE are knowable and thus preventable, but they are often beyond the capacity of any one stakeholder group to adequately resolve,” he said. “Collaboration can offer solutions. Experts and practitioners are exploring whether an independent platform to drive future collaboration on MSE and human rights would be a big step forward.”

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