UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai today called on international sports bodies, including FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to respect universally recognized human rights at their events, especially the right to peaceful assembly.
Maina Kiai condemned “private multilateral bodies” and singled out Switzerland-based IOC and FIFA in a speech to the UN General Assembly.
He told the audience “I am … alarmed at the policies of private multilateral bodies, such as the IOC and FIFA – both of which wield enormous social and economic power to pressure countries hosting their events. The IOC Charter bans demonstrations at their events altogether, and FIFA executives openly express with apparent impunity that less-democratic States make better hosts for soccer World Cups.” He called the failure to encourage and facilitate peaceful assemblies “a lost opportunity for engagement.”
And he asserted that they “are not exempt from the responsibility to respect, if not promote, universally recognized human rights.”
oth organisations have had increasingly bad press recently over issues such as corruption, over-commercialisation, employment practices and their stance on human rights. Last week the IOC, however, agreed to include human rights protections in future host city contracts, according to Human Rights Watch. While this step is commendable, Kiai said, the extent of these protections is not yet clear. Further, the Olympic charter still states that “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”