Lessons Learned in Qatar: The Role of the Netherlands and Its Businesses in Addressing Human Rights Abuses in Mega-Sporting Events

Centre for Sport and Human Rights

Mega-sporting events (MSEs) can have a negative impact on human rights throughout their lifecycle, from the bidding stage, over to the planning and preparation stage, the delivery of the event, and also as part of their legacy after the event has concluded. They can be linked to land grabbing, forced evictions, forced labour and many other human rights abuses. The problem is that only a very few of these cases are actually addressed in the sense that rights-holders receive an effective remedy and those responsible for the abuse are held to account. MSEs are jointly organized and staged by public, private, national, and international actors, which each contribute in different ways to the associated human rights impact. Rather than looking at the responsibility of those actors directly involved in organizing and staging the event, this article looks at the responsibility of the participating actors of states that are represented at the event, namely businesses and sports bodies, using the Netherlands and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as the guiding example. The central questions it tries to explore based on lessons learned and opportunities missed in Qatar are how such actors are connected to adverse human rights impacts associated with MSEs, which responsibilities under the human rights framework flow from those connections, and how participating states should then ensure that businesses live up to their responsibilities.

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