Human Rights Volunteers
The Human Rights Volunteers programme is an innovative initiative that had demonstrable impact at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar and is now rolled out by the Centre for Sport and Human Rights for global use.
Human Rights Volunteers (HRVs) are members of an event’s wider volunteer pool who undergo special training from recognised global human rights experts to act as independent observers, similar to election observers or demonstration monitors but specifically for sporting and other events. They monitor activities that arise during games time and report on their findings to event owners and organisers for internal feedback, intervention, follow-up or corrective action.
The programme can be implemented by event owners, hosts and organisers to support their wider human rights risk, compliance and legacy systems. Through the programme, volunteers are trained to:
- Observe: Observe trends in behaviours and practices related to human rights
- Interview: Conduct interviews with fans, workers and others on their experiences
- Document: Systematically report observations on human rights concerns for follow-up
- Refer: Inform stakeholders about availability of relevant complaints procedures
- Escalate: Identify material concerns requiring swift intervention and follow-up
Why do events need Human Rights Volunteers?
Sports events, including international tournaments and championships, have the power to change lives for the better, bring people together and create a sense of unity and pride. These events can however also have a negative impact on human rights and people’s lives in areas such as:
- Accessibility for people with disabilities
- Diversity, equity and inclusion
- Freedom of assembly, expression and the press
- Housing, property, rental and land rights
- Safety and security, and
- Workplace rights.
To make sure that sports events live up to their potential to be a force for good, to avoid causing anyone harm and to promote human rights and people’s well-being, it is important to have policies and risk management systems, as well as eyes and ears on the ground so event organisers know what's working and isn’t. This is where HRVs come in.
“I believe in my own small way, I contributed to improving the operations and organisation of the FIFA World Cup. Knowing that I might have impacted a person's life or future is a very rewarding experience for me.”
Human Rights Volunteer, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022