Opening Remarks for the 2018 Sporting Chance Forum

Remarks delivered on 12-12-2018 at UNESCO, Paris.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here today for this important event to represent the OECD, which is part of the Advisory Council of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights and is committed to its success.

Sport teaches millions of people about values such as fair play, team spirit, respect for others, but also the importance of playing by the rules and of having a level playing field.

Sport has the potential to elevate us, but many recent examples show that some aspects of sport can have adverse effects, notably on human rights. I am thinking of corruption associated with sporting events. I am thinking of violations of human rights against workers and communities affected by sports-related infrastructure projects.

I am thinking of the recently uncovered abuses suffered by athletes, just to name a few.

These risks are exacerbated by the fact that sport is now a booming industry which by some estimates generates more than 145 billion dollars in annual revenue.[1] In particular, mega-sporting events involve high levels of public expenditure, large-scale investment from sponsors, together with high-value media contracts. This creates a high stakes, high risk environment for sports organisations, whose operations are often subject to little external oversight.

This shows that respect for human rights in the sporting context is a crucial and multifaceted challenge for governments, companies and sport organisations. It must be addressed from different angles, and this is what the OECD is trying to achieve. Let me give you three examples of OECD initiatives which seek to address sport-related human rights impacts.

First: on the anti-corruption front, the OECD, together with other international organisations, sports organisations, governments and stakeholders, has established in 2017 the International Partnership against Corruption in Sport. IPACS works towards better policies which can help pre-empt a number of challenges in those areas where the risk of corruption is particularly high.

Last week in London, IPACS held a high-level meeting where more than 100 Ministers, international sports organisations and experts reaffirmed their commitment to tackling corruption in sport, focusing on three specific areas where sport is particularly prone to corruption risk: public procurement for sport related infrastructure; managing conflict of interest in the selection of major sporting events; and strengthening the application of global governance standards to the world of sport.

These commitments were further strengthened by G20 countries’ recognition of IPACS in the new 2019-2021 G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan adopted by Leaders in Buenos Aires. Tomorrow morning, the OECD Director for Legal Affairs, Nicola Bonucci, will discuss in more detail the achievements and future plans of this important multi-stakeholder initiative.

Second, on the remedy front, the OECD coordinates a network of non-judicial grievance mechanisms: the National Contact Points for Responsible Business Conduct. The NCPs are national bodies in charge of implementing the OECD Standard for Responsible Business Conduct, the well-known OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. In that capacity, NCPs can receive cases against companies having allegedly breached the Guidelines.

NCPs provide a platform of dialogue to reach a solution for the issues raised.

As I said, in many instances, sport is a business, and NCPs have provided remedy in sport-related cases. To give just one example, in 2017 the Swiss NCP helped FIFA and the global union federation Building and Wood Workers International reach an agreement regarding the labour rights of workers employed on World Cup stadium construction sites in Qatar.

Third: on the local development front, in May this year the OECD Council, our highest political body, adopted the OECD Recommendation on Global Events and Local Development. This Recommendation applies to sporting events and sets the framework conditions to ensure that such events deliver on the promises they hold for host cities and nations.

It contains concrete guidance for Governments regarding planning, delivery, evaluation, governance and partnerships with other actors.

The Recommendation promotes the respect of human and labour rights throughout the event lifecycle to ensure community benefit and the creation of quality jobs. The OECD has also developed a forward-looking Implementation Strategy to help cities and countries achieve more sustainable global events and build stronger capacities to leverage local benefits for all.

These three examples show the incredible complexity of tackling all possible human rights issues linked to the world of sport, and how this is necessary to ensure the value and benefits of sport to communities and the economy. They also show that international organisations, governments, and private actors can come up with solutions for better respect for human rights through creative multilateral initiatives.

Thank you

[1] Global Corruption Report: Sport, Transparency International, Feb 2016. Changing the Game: Outlook for the Global Sports Market to 2015, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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