Sport & Human Rights
Sport can be used to advance the human rights of everyone, and provides an opportunity to promote a set of universal values amongst everyone involved in sport – from participants and fans to workers, local communities and governments.
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has been working in the field of sport and human rights since 2016, building partnerships with sporting bodies and promoting the importance of embedding human rights in sport. During its tenure as chair of the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (2015-18), the Commission developed a draft declaration on sport and human rights which set out national human rights institutions’ commitments to protecting and promoting human rights through sport. This became the London Declaration on Sport and Human Rights, and was adopted by members of the Commonwealth Forum in London in 2018.
The Commission continues work to forge partnerships between national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and their national sporting bodies, developing a workshop for NHRIs and their Commonwealth Games Associations alongside the Commonwealth Games Federations’ annual meeting in September 2019. This came as a result of the Commission’s long-standing partnership with the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council and the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, which was established in 2018.
Northern Ireland Sport & Human Rights Forum
The Northern Ireland Sport & Human Rights Forum was established in May 2019, coinciding with the launch of the Declaration on Sport and Human Rights – drafted by the Commission and the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council.
At the time of the Forum’s launch, five major sports bodies in Northern Ireland had already adopted the Declaration: the Belfast Giants, Irish Football Association, Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council, Ulster GAA, and Ulster Rugby.
The Forum has been established as a multi-stakeholder platform to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and good practice on sport and human rights issues. Its first meeting took place in June 2019, following the Declaration launch. The current chair is Conal Heatley, Business and Operations Manager at Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland.
NIHRC Chief Executive, Dr David Russell; UN Deputy High Commissioner on Human Rights, Kate Gilmore; and NI Sport & Human Rights Forum Chair, Conal Heatley (NI Commonwealth Games Council) at the 2019 launch of the Declaration on Sport & Human Rights