Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

Olympics: IOC getting closer to a human rights strategy

June 8, 2022

The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) progress update released on May 20, 2022, is an important step toward adopting a desperately needed human rights strategic framework, the Sport & Rights Alliance said today. The move follows decades of calls from civil society and addresses several long-time demands from nongovernmental organizations and trade unions. [See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/12/03/ioc-moves-on-its-human-rights-approach-more-of-a-marathon-than-a-sprint/]

“The International Olympic Committee should immediately adopt and entrench human rights across its operations, and add protecting and respecting human rights to the Olympic Charter as a fundamental principle,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “Though overdue, this is a critically important step. It is a testament to what happens when athletes, activists, fans, journalists, workers and communities come together to make change.”

The IOC’s progress report acknowledges its responsibility to “respect human rights in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the UN Guiding Principles),” and makes a commitment to “amending the Olympic Charter to better articulate human rights responsibilities.” The IOC also rightly focused on salient rights issues, such as equality and non-discrimination; safety and well-being; livelihoods and decent work; voice – including freedom of expression, association and assembly, and meaningful representation –and privacy.

“The IOC report is right to say that athletes sit at the heart of sport, and the IOC’s human rights strategy must deliver for them,” said Brendan Schwab, executive director of the World Players Association. “This means defining athlete rights in accordance with international law, recognizing the right of athletes to organize, and ensuring that bodies such as the Court of Arbitration for Sport will enable athletes to access justice where their human rights have been violated. The IOC has long purported to advance athlete rights without respecting international human rights standards.”

The Sport & Rights Alliance has found key gaps in the document which need to be addressed in the final IOC Human Rights Strategic Framework, scheduled to be launched in September 2022. Most notably, the IOC failed to acknowledge journalists, people with disabilities, spectators and fans, as well as racial and ethnic minority groups as “particularly at-risk populations.”

“The chaos that unfolded around the UEFA Champions League final in Paris clearly shows that the IOC also needs to look closer to how fans are treated, especially for the next Games in Paris 2024,” said Ronan Evain, executive director of Football Supporters Europe. “The Olympic movement has no audience without its spectators. In its role as authoritative leader of the Olympic Movement and global sports governance, the IOC’s decisions determine how and whether fans participate in events, where we travel, how we’re treated, yet it has once again forgotten that fans too have human rights.”

Eli Wolff, director of the Power of Sport Lab and co-founder of Disability in Sport International, said that, “Persons with disabilities are a critically affected group in sport and in society and are protected and recognized by the United Nations and specifically in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Persons with disabilities are more than 15 percent of the global population and must be recognized in the human rights strategies and all equality and non-discrimination policies of the International Olympic Committee.”

The Sport & Rights Alliance added that the gaps identified in the progress report are not entirely surprising, given that it was developed without direct input from representatives of affected people and communities. Ongoing stakeholder engagement is an essential requirement of the UN Guiding Principles, in the identification and prioritization of human rights risks, when informing effective mitigation strategies, tracking its effectiveness and addressing violations.

Affirming the IOC’s commitment to “integrating meaningful engagement with affected stakeholders” into its ongoing due diligence processes, the Sport & Rights Alliance underlines the need for this to start as soon as possible. As the leader of global sport, the IOC should also take the additional step of including stakeholder representation in its governance structures to ensure the voice and lived experience of affected people are included in all decision-making processes.

“Given the declared launch date of September 2022, the IOC should immediately engage representatives for all affected groups — including spectators, journalists, children, survivors, athletes, LGBTQI+ population and people with disabilities — in meaningful and ongoing consultations for the next steps,” said Andrea Florence, acting director of the Sport & Rights Alliance. “It is only through transparent participation of people and communities directly impacted in decision-making processes that the IOC will actually understand how to prevent and address human rights harms related to their operations.”

Since the UN Guiding Principles were unanimously endorsed by UN Member States in 2011, the IOC has resisted pressures from civil society to adopt human rights across its operations and effectively engage with representatives of affected people and communities, even as it awarded the Olympics to countries with poor or worsening human rights environments.

Members of the Sport & Rights Alliance have long met with Olympic leaders to urge the IOC to adopt a human rights framework, accept their responsibility to seek to prevent and address human rights harms linked to the Olympic Movement, and to mitigate and remedy harms that they cause or contribute to directly. The IOC should also use its enormous power to improve often abysmal human rights conditions in host countries including ChinaBrazilRussiaBelarus and Japan.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/06/07/olympics-ioc-heeds-calls-embed-rights

Good read: Special Issue on the Olympic Movement through a human rights lens

November 22, 2020
The human rights of athletes : special issue / Galea, Natalie... [et al.] | Galea, Natalie

This edition of “Human rights defender” examines the Olympic Movement through a human rights lens. The magazine was planned to be released on time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics which were postponed due to COVID-19. With athletes taking a more public stand as human rights defenders, the authors thought the issue was still timely:

Why athlete rights should be at the core of sport / Mary Harvey.
The heavy toll of achieving ‘sport for all’ in Afghanistan / Khalida Popal, interviewed by Natalie Galea.
Bahrain’s athletes rewarded with prison sentences / Fatima Yazbek.
Athletes first? The right to health and safety in postponing the Tokyo Olympic Games / Han Xiao.
A response from the International Olympic Committee.
Superhumans or sitting ducks? examining the gaps in elite athletes’ knowledge and understanding of their rights in sport / Yetsa A. Tuakli-Wosornu.
Embedding the human rights of athletes / Brendan Schwab.
Going beyond the ‘feel-good-factor’ to achieve equality in para-sport / Katie Kelly.
The human right of Olympic athletes to earn a living / Maximilian Klein.
The story in her own words / Annet Negesa.
In search of a safer playing field and gender justice in sport / Payoshni Mitra.
The unlevel global playing field of gender eligibility regulation in sport / Madeleine Pape.
A fist of freedom or a fist of iron? rule 50 and the Olympic paradox / Stanis Elsborg.
Sports activism, the gentle way / Sabrina Filzmoser, interviewed by Gabrielle Dunlevy.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/03/04/ioc-continues-its-cautious-work-on-human-rights-and-takes-first-steps-on-a-strategy/

https://library.olympic.org/doc/SYRACUSE/471451syracu

IOC continues its cautious work on human rights and takes first steps on a strategy

March 4, 2020
Executive Board IOC
HRH Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Rachel Davis, Vice-President of Shift – a leading non-profit centre of expertise on business and human rights – formally presented their joint “Recommendations for an IOC Human Rights Strategy” to IOC President Thomas Bach in February. IOC/Greg Martin
Recommendations for a strategic framework on human rights were commissioned by the IOC in March 2019 and developed over the course of a year, in which Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Rachel Davis, Vice-President of Shift, evaluated the IOC’s current approach, including through consultation with key internal staff and expert civil society stakeholders. A range of recommendations made in the confidential report by Prince Zeid and Rachel Davis will need to be consulted on internally, and will be further considered in the development of the new strategy. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/03/olympic-committee-tries-its-hands-on-human-rights-cautiously/.
Continuing – still cautiously !! – in March 2020 the IOC Executive Board, welcoming the overarching recommendation, confirmed its commitment to develop a comprehensive and cohesive human rights strategy for the IOC. As immediate next steps towards the implementation of this approach, the IOC EB has agreed to:
  • develop and adopt a detailed overarching strategy on human rights, encompassing the IOC’s human rights responsibilities in its own operations (including the activities of the IOC administration as well as the IOC’s role as organiser of the Olympic Games), and setting out its role to advance respect for human rights as the leader of the Olympic Movement, in cooperation with the National Olympic Committees and the International Federations;
  • establish a Human Rights Unit with expert leadership to elaborate and drive the detailed strategy in practice, in close collaboration with key departments that will be essential to delivering on the IOC’s commitment;
  • continue to strengthen human rights due diligence, the use of leverage and engagement with affected stakeholders in existing areas of work, including the IOC’s efforts on the prevention of harassment and abuse in sport, engagement with Olympic Games and Youth Olympic Games Organising Committees on human rights impacts, and in the IOC’s own procurement; and
  • establish the previously announced IOC Human Rights Advisory Committee once the human rights strategy – as the basis for its work – is further elaborated and internal resources and cross-functional structures are in place to make the IOC’s human rights commitment fully operational.

Shift has provided advisory support to the IOC on human rights since early 2018, and will continue to provide operational support and expertise during the transition to the IOC’s new internal human rights capacities.

https://www.olympic.org/news/ioc-continues-working-on-human-rights-and-takes-first-steps-on-a-strategy

https://www.insidethegames.biz/index.php/articles/1091429/ioc-delay-human-rights-committee

Sports and Politics: Minsk 2019 apes Baku 2015 and with similar results

June 17, 2019

Belarus news, Alexander Lukashenko, European Games 2019, European Games Minsk, European Games Baku, Belarus human rights, Belarus press freedom, sports and human rights, European Olympic Committee, corruption in sport

Minsk, Belarus, 05/09/2019 © Tricky_Shark / Shutterstock

The second edition of the European Games is set to kick off on June 21 2019 in Minsk, Belarus. Events covering 15 different sports, from archery to sambo, will be contested over nine days. The 10 disciplines recognized as Olympic sports are especially important because they serve as qualifications for Tokyo 2020. Belarus finds itself trying to oversee a successful international sporting event while at the same time dismissing condemnation of its domestic political situation.

International organizations such as the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch routinely criticize the human rights conditions in Belarus. Actions such as peaceful protests and membership in opposition organizations are basically criminalized under Belarusian law. Access to websites critical of the government is routinely denied, and press freedom curtailed. To add to this, Belarus remains the last country in Europe to employ the death penalty. These issues once again have risen to the fore when Belarus was selected to host the European Games that are thought to represent a different political culture.

These views are echoed by Human Rights Watch, which strongly pushed the European Olympic Committees (EOC) for assurances that journalists can carry out their work unhindered during the games. For its part, the EOC states that it will appoint special observers to ensure press freedom, but critics contend this is not enough. Key questions remain about the conditions for journalists when the games are over, and whether the EOC will ensure action if serious issues arise. The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) went so far as to contemplate a boycott of the 2019 European Games. It was a half-hearted idea, as the DOSB viewed the maneuver as a last resort rather than an actionable response to the situation in Belarus. In the end, the requirement for athletes to achieve qualifications for the Tokyo Olympics quashed any sort of political activism.

Further, the Sports and Rights Alliance — a coalition of leading NGOs, sports organizations and trade unions — petitioned for positive advancements for Belorussian human rights prior to the commencement of this year’s games. It alleges that the EOC overlooks duties established in the Olympic Charter to protect human rights and dignity. At the recent Olympism in Action Forum, which focused on the relation of human rights and sport, David Grevemberg, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, stated that “You’re judged by the company you keep and what you stand for.”..

Azerbaijan hosted the first European Games in Baku in 2015. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/06/12/baku-games-starting-today-with-avalanche-of-human-rights-criticism/] It is apparent that the past experience of 2015 had little effect on the EOC, and that the organization will not shift its mandate to accommodate the demands put forward by human rights defenders. Baku 2015 provides a template and numerous lessons for Minsk 2019. In the case that Minsk can put on a well-managed spectacle with memorable moments of sporting excellence, human rights concerns will not overshadow the Belarusian edition of the European Games.

.,… Lukashenko explained that “Visitors should get positive impressions of their stay in Belarus, in Minsk, and should take these impressions back home.” The president often refers to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and how the event improved opinions about Russia prior to the ensuing scandals linked to the Kremlin. Lukashenko knows there is a tough task ahead of him in regard to the human rights lobby and criticism of his strongman style of governance. However, the EOC’s president, Janez Kocijančič, firmly stated that any human rights concerns would not overshadow the competition, and that it is not in the dominion of the sports committee to influence domestic politics of host nations. This is a reaffirmation that sport is to be kept separate from politics and goes neatly along with Lukashenko’s retorts to criticism…

It is naive to believe that sport and politics are separate, as much as EOC and Belarusian officials insist on that principle. While the actual sporting activities are guided by apolitical rules, both the atmosphere and the message of large-scale events are inherently political. Hosting duties bring international scrutiny of human rights offences, while the country anticipates a public relations makeover. Both require diplomatic nuance and managed interactions with the regional community. Thus, levels of political involvement are apparent….

International sporting events held in countries with tainted human rights records often become lighting rods in the global community. It is of great importance to highlight these issues and to focus attention on states that regularly infringe upon basic freedoms. However, little perceptible success has been achieved by international NGOs advising boycotts or protective mechanisms by the umbrella organizations responsible for the events — in this case the EOC.

It is a difficult task to shift the development and implementation of a large-scale multidisciplinary event with a lot invested in its success on all sides. Campaigns need to expand their reach beyond those involved in the human rights movement who are already aware of calls to action. Social engagement must overcome the collective excitement over sport.

……

It seems that sport governing bodies struggle with achieving a balance between spectacle and sport. This issue will continue to complicate the relationship between athletics and politics, as liberal democracies balk at the cost of hosting such events, while states with debatable democratic records seek legitimacy from the international community. Sports diplomacy delivers this through soft power.

See on this tipic also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/02/01/sports-and-human-rights-focus-on-sports-washing-big-names-play-for-big-money/

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Belarus Understands the Diplomatic Power of Sport

Adidas and Human Rights Defenders: no longer run-of-the-mill?

December 8, 2016

In 2012 – in the run up to the London Olympics – the Playfair 2012 Campaign (supported by War on Want and others) highlighted the appalling experiences of workers making Adidas official Olympic and Team GB goods in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. “Around the world 775,000 workers, mainly women, in 1,200 factories across 65 countries make Adidas products. Almost all of the jobs are outsourced to factories in poorer countries, yet through Adidas’ buying practices the company has enormous influence over their working conditions, and ultimately their lives. In the run up the London 2012 Olympics research has exposed the harsh reality of life for these workers.” The campaign demanded Adidas to end worker exploitation. playfair2012.org

In a report of 11 March 2015 on Labor Rights Abuses in Cambodia’s Garment Industry Human Rights Watch noted that brands can do more and said “For example, Adidas wrote to Human Rights Watch that it first started privately disclosing its supplier list to academics and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in 2001 and moved to a public disclosure system in 2007.”

In an article in Open Democracy of 17 June 2015  Mauricio Lazala and Joe Bardwell under the title: “What human rights?” Why some companies speak out while others don’t.state that:More recently, civil society has called on FIFA sponsors to respond to human rights concerns at construction sites for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. So far, Adidas, Coca-Cola and Visa have issued statements supporting workers’ rights in the country

In an article published on 16 November 2015, ISHR Director Phil Lynch explored the role, responsibility and interest of business when it comes to supporting human rights defenders and protecting civil society space. He mentions Adidas in the following context: The fourth and final category of actions, perhaps the most important but also the least common, involves business actively advocating and seeking remedy for human rights defenders and against laws and policies which restrict them. Such action could be private, as I understand to be the predominant approach of Adidas. It could also be public, such as the open letters and press statements issued by Tiffany & Co and others for the release of Angolan defender and journalist Rafael Marques

On 31 December 2015, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre listed in its “KnowTheChain” (a ranking of 20 apparel and footwear companies on efforts to address forced labour in the supply chain) Germany-based Adidas as number one out of 20.

On 21 June 2016 Adidas published its policy on HRDs: “The Adidas Group and Human Rights Defenders“. As there is such a dearth of corporate policies specifically on human rights defenders, here follows the key part in quote:

The threats faced by human rights defenders come in many forms – physical, psychological, economic, and social – and involve the interaction of many factors (poor governance, the absence of the rule of law, intolerance, tensions over development issues, etc.) and can be triggered by different actors, both private and State.

In his report to the General Assembly in 2015, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders recommended that both States and businesses should play an active role in supporting and promoting the role of HRDs working in their sectors. This should include, for example, speaking out when human right defenders are targeted for their corporate accountability work. Businesses must also cease and abstain from supporting any actions, directly or indirectly, which impinge upon defenders’ rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

The adidas Group has a longstanding policy of non-interference with the activities of human rights defenders, including those who actively campaign on issues that may be linked to our business operations. We expect our business partners to follow the same policy; they should not inhibit the lawful actions of a human rights defender or restrict their freedom of expression, freedom of association, or right to peaceful assembly.

We value the input and views of all stakeholders and we are willing, and open, to engage on any issue, be this related to our own operations or our supply chain. Often, our engagement with human rights defenders is constructive, especially where we identify areas of shared concern. For example, with respect to transparency and fair play in sports, or environmental sustainability, or the protection of worker rights in our global supply chain. In these instances, we may actively support the work of the HRD and derive shared value from our joint endeavours in, say, improving working conditions, safety, or the environment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Coalition of human rights defenders and others call on Olympic Committee to change its ways

February 26, 2015

The IOC Executive Committee is meeting in Rio de Janeiro these days (26-28 February) to discuss implementation of Agenda 2020, its “strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement”. The IOC’s adopted agenda requires Olympic host countries to respect anti-discrimination measures and labor standards, improve transparency, and promote good governance.

The new Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA see below for membership) addressed a letter to the IOC saying that too often major sports events have seen people forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for infrastructure, workers exploited, campaigners locked up, the environment damaged beyond repair and notoriously opaque bidding processes,” … “The recommendations in the IOC’s Agenda 2020 are a chance to change that and ensure human rights, the environment and anti-corruption measures are central to all stages of the Olympic Games, from bidding, through to the development and delivery phase to final reporting.Read the rest of this entry »

12 human rights defenders who are not on the slopes of Sochi

February 9, 2014

FLD launches Olympics campaign on 12 human rights defenders

Front Line Defenders launched an online and social media campaign to focus attention on the plight of 12 human rights defenders (HRDs) from Eastern Europe and Central Asia coinciding with the launch of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The ‘Rights. Risks. Change!’ campaign (www.sportshrd.org) calls on the public to take solidarity action to support these 12 defenders and to pressure local officials to respect the work of HRDs.

All 12 of the HRDs highlighted in the campaign have displayed great courage and integrity in their work on a range of human rights issues. Read the rest of this entry »