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Human Rights Volunteers Programme Launched

A new Human Rights Volunteers programme will soon be available to major events owners and organisers for use globally. The Centre for Sport and Human Rights has been invited to support FIFA, in its pioneering Human Rights Volunteers programme at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to support real-time human rights due diligence during events. In addition to the valuable expertise that trained volunteers will provide, this programme will help organisers leave a positive legacy of increased human rights capacity in local communities and among sports federations and local event hosts, while contributing to the growth of the global sport and human rights movement. 

The Centre is now offering the Human Rights Volunteers programme to others. Collaborating with FIFA at the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 and FIFA World Cup 2022, has enabled the Centre to gain expertise and experience in the development of a programme of volunteer recruitment, training, and stakeholder engagement. The UN Human Rights Office will assist for Qatar 2022, providing introductory training in human rights observer skills. The programme builds human rights capabilities, organisational capacity for event organisers for future activities, and creates a model that can be applied by events of all sizes in all regions.

The Human Rights Volunteers programme draws from a sporting event's volunteer pool and offers opportunities to those with an interest in or experience relating to human rights.  Recruiting local and international civil society and human rights experts as needed into volunteer schemes also gives them a direct role, accredited access, and supports the safe and successful delivery of events. By creating a human rights community around specific events, this initiative will aid host cities and countries and strengthen the international network of people with sport and human rights know-how and practical experience. 

Human Rights Volunteers will initially be deployed around official tournament venues - including stadiums and fan zones - to conduct real time human rights risk assessments, by carrying out interviews, providing observations at higher risk locations, and assisting fans and others with raising complaints and accessing formal grievance mechanisms. The volunteer training programme will equip participants with knowledge to identify human rights impacts from a people-centred perspective and with unique awareness of potential vulnerabilities.

While non-specialist, a cohort of Human Rights Volunteers can be a valuable first line of information gathering on potential labour abuses, breaches of working conditions, disability access issues, incidents of sexual harassment, homophobic and racial discrimination and abuse, and other issues that might impact upon the safety and dignity of all involved within official competition venues. Human Rights Volunteers can also serve fans and others by being an initial source of information on human rights, discrimination and safeguarding. In doing so, they can help to empower individuals to speak out about abuse and raise concerns, and build confidence in event organisers’ commitments for the prevention of harm and the effective and timely access to remedy.

In early 2023, the Centre will publish a full review of the pilot Human Rights Volunteers project for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 implemented by FIFA with the support of the Centre, including details of the training curriculum and operational design. From 2023, the Centre will be available to assist other event hosts and competition organisers to design their own Human Rights Volunteers programmes, support volunteer recruitment, involve diverse voices and experiences, and train and supervise the management of Human Rights Volunteers during events. The Centre looks forward to working with many actors in the sport ecosystem and affected communities to bring real-time human rights due diligence to mega-sporting events throughout the world through this programme.

In developing this programme the Centre is grateful for the close collaboration with FIFA and the opportunities to innovate together at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

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