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The Sporting Chance Forum 2023 opens with Caster Semenya

The Sporting Chance Forum (SCF23) opened on 5 December at the Palais des Nations in Geneva to discuss the future of sport and human rights.

SCF23 coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the 5th anniversary of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights (CSHR). SCF23 is officially part of the United Nations Human Rights 75, a year-long initiative to commemorate UDHR's anniversary.

Special guest Caster Semenya spoke with former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson about her recollections of meeting Nelson Mandela as an 18-year old, and her long struggle for dignity and human rights: “It is very important for leaders to understand that when it comes to policy making, it is not up to you to decide who belongs in sport.  It is up to athletes to decide.”

The opening plenary session kicked off with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk focusing on promoting human rights in sport: ‘'We need responsible sport – sport and Mega-Sporting Events that are inclusive, fair, and safe, where stakeholders are properly engaged, and where human rights risks are mapped and addressed in line with international standards.”

UEFA General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis spoke on European football’s governing body’s emphasis on human rights throughout the organisation’s work: “We have reiterated our commitment to being an active participant in the Advisory Council of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights. We want to engage with civil society & to continue to play a role to promote universal human rights amongst the football community.”

Ex-Professional Cricketer Azeem Rafiq, expressed his hopes for a way forward to sport’s racism issues: “We've got to be involved in the conversations. We must work collectively and find innovative ways to create opportunities together.”

Sessions included 

  • Beyond Commitments: Towards transformational leadership & cultural change in sport
  • The “S” in ESG: Risks, regulations & responsibilities
  • Truth, justice, repair & reconciliation: opportunities in sport to address racial inequality & legacies of colonialism
  • The transformative future of women’s sports: embracing intersectionality & solidarity in policies & practices

SCF23 is exploring innovative strategies and new forms of collective action to advance respect for human rights across the world of sport. As a contribution to the Human Rights 75 initiative, SCF23 will make pledges that will help shape the coming decades of responsible sport.

The Sporting Chance Forum is organised by the Centre for Sport and Human Rights and co-hosted with the International Labour Organization, the UN Human Rights Office, the United Nations Office at Geneva, the Government of Switzerland and is supported by Open Society Foundations.

Full Programme

Meet the Speakers

The Centre for Sport and Human Rights is supporting the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with 'The 75' campaign. In the 75 days leading up to International Human Rights Day, CSHR, together with the UN Human Rights Office, is publishing 75 social media videos from athletes who have spoken out on social issues and human rights, or have demonstrated in other ways their commitment to human rights - through their foundations, NGOs, or support for UN causes.

About the Centre for Sport and Human Rights

Launched in June 2018, CSHR works towards a world of sport that fully respects human rights by sharing knowledge, building capacity, and strengthening the accountability of all actors in the sport ecosystem through collective action. The Centre’s First Patron is Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.


Follow the Centre for Sport and Human Rights

CSHR Website

@SportandRights on Twitter

CSHR on LinkedIn

CSHR on Instagram

Sport and Rights Podcast

CSHR on Youtube

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