PtG Article 17.02.2021

Human rights in sport rises to the top of the agenda in the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe has begun a revision of the European Sports Charter that lays down the basic principles for national sports policies in member states. Human rights in sport is an important part of the process.

The issue of human rights in sport has risen to the top of the political agenda among the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. Over the past three months, the European sports ministers have held their biennial conference in several online stages, and on 11 February they decided on the principles that should govern the upcoming revision of the European Sports Charter (ESC) including a specific resolution about human rights in sport.

The European Sports Charter lays down the basic principles for national sports policies and aims to inspire policy makers and member states on how to perfect their existing sport legislations and to develop a comprehensive framework for sport.

The charter is from 1992 and was last updated in 2001, so it was decided to revise it now to take the newest developments in the world of sport into account.

Respect for human rights in sport has emerged as one of the key issues that the ministers of sport want to see addressed. The topic was identified at the previous conference for sports ministers in 2018, and as Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, said in her speech to the ministers’ conference:

”Back in 2018, I was struck by the clarity of thought about the challenges facing sports today: Globalisation, commercialisation, and the increased visibility of sport have both changed the nature of human rights and rule of law violations and drawn them further out, into the open. The sexual abuse of children, the exploitation of players and employees, and the lack of access to justice. These were among the key challenges identified as requiring action.”

40 of the European Council’s member states work together within the framework of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS), and in the coming period, EPAS will work with the sports movement to make protection of human rights a priority and to protect the economic and social rights of athletes.

The ministers’ resolution also calls on the Council of Europe member states to

  • further enhance the protection of children’s rights in sport
  • promote access to justice and the right to fair trial in the field of sport
  • prevent, fight and respond to violence, discrimination, sexual harassment and abuse and hate speech
  • strive towards gender equality
  • defend media freedom in the field of sport
  • defend athletes’ freedom of expression and association
  • promote inclusiveness and diversity in sport
  • use sport as a key contributor to improving physical fitness and mental well-being

”To ensure that a human rights culture permeates the sports world, we need governments, sports organisations, and business alike to buy into it. And this resolution is a bold and necessary step in that direction,” said Battaini-Dragoni.

The revision of the European Sports Charter is expected to be completed by September 2021.

More information

Related articles

Jules Boykoff
PtG Article 30.11.2022
A sportswashing Qatarstrophe
PtG Comment 19.11.2022
Football may unite the world, but FIFA works to divide it
Ivo Ferriani and Thomas Bach
PtG Article 18.11.2022
World sports federations may give up their own independent platform
PtG Article 27.10.2022
The Saudis in sport: Ambitions much larger than sportswashing
Photo from the EU anti-corruption session
PtG Article 07.10.2022
Political campaign for a world anti-corruption agency launched at the European Parliament
Viola von Cramon
PtG Article 28.09.2022
Member of European Parliament launches call for a world anti-corruption agency for sport
Mehboba Ahdyar
PtG Article 20.09.2022
New IOC human rights strategy brought to the test in negotiations with the Taliban regime
Canadas ungdomslandshold i ishockey
PtG Article 29.08.2022
Sexual abuse in sport: Canada could be a world leader in developing solutions
James M Dorsey at Play the Game 2022
PtG Article 27.07.2022
From sportswashing in autocracies to soft power in democracies 
Mikhail Zaleuski at Play the Game 2022
PtG Article 22.07.2022
Solidarity in sport: Athletes should speak up for democracy and against climate change
Panel
PtG Article 04.07.2022
Call for nuances in media reporting of the World Cup in Qatar
Friba Rezayee holder oplæg
PtG Article 30.06.2022
Afghanistan’s first female Olympian: IOC is funding the Taliban-controlled NOC in Kabul
Presentation at conference
PtG Article 28.06.2022
It is important that FIFA’s world cup in Qatar gets a human rights legacy
Panel at Play the Game 2022.
PtG Article 27.06.2022
Russian sanctions unlikely to herald a new era of accountability
Stanislav Pozdnyakov
PtG Article 05.04.2022
Most Olympic federations suspend Russian athletes, but officials go free
Thomas Bach and Vladimir Putin
PtG Comment 02.03.2022
The coalition of Olympic perpetrators
Beijing 2022 opening ceremony
PtG Comment 08.02.2022
A modest but confident China on display at the 2022 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony
Uyghurs demonstrate in Washington
PtG Article 14.10.2021
Beijing 2022: Olympic boycott battle over China’s ‘Genocide Games’
Basketball woman Mali
PtG Article 20.09.2021
Human Rights Watch: FIBA president should go after sexual abuse case in Mali
Khalida Popal
PtG Article 27.05.2021
Sexual abuse in football: Presidential predators and pedophile child molesters
Yulia and Vitaly Stepanov
PtG Article 28.04.2021
Whistleblowers call on the UN to close human rights gap in sport
Thomas Bach - photo by milos bicanski
PtG Comment 10.03.2021
The playbook that keeps Thomas Bach in power at the IOC
PtG Comment 13.01.2021
Egypt’s search for a fig leaf: It’s not the Handball World Championship
Alexander Lukashenko
PtG Comment 15.12.2020
Olympic finger-wagging at Europe’s last dictator
Photo by IOC/Ian Jones
PtG Comment 09.11.2020
To stand up for Olympic values it may be necessary to kneel as well
Colin Kaepernick
PtG Comment 11.08.2020
Athletes’ gestures are protected by international human rights law
Sports fans
PtG Comment 28.04.2020
Coronavirus, connection and (no) sport
Men raising their fists
PtG Comment 11.02.2020
A fist of freedom or a fist of iron? Rule 50 and the Olympic paradox
Protesters in Brazil
PtG Comment 31.12.2019
A decade that opened windows of democracy in sport
Conference panel
PtG Article 18.12.2019
Governments step up their actions against sports corruption
PtG Article 15.10.2019
Mega-events and human rights: Where do we draw the line?
Flag at opening ceremony
PtG Article 21.03.2019
Anti-Semitism in sport: Discrimination and death threats
Putin
PtG Comment 23.10.2018
Putin’s use of sporting events as a domestic policy tool
Legs
PtG Article 18.11.2015
UNESCO lies out roadmap for global polices on sport and physical activity
PtG Comment 13.08.2013
For your eyes only
Football players
PtG Comment 23.03.2011
A Middle East Female Sports Revolution?
Olympic rings
PtG Article 26.06.2007
The Olympic Games as a force for social change
Football
PtG Article 22.07.2003
The Dark Side of Australian Sport
Runners Miguel A. Amutio
PtG Article 12.11.2002
The FrontRunners: A Story of Ten Indigenous Runners in Canada
Runner
PtG Article 12.11.2000
Using Sports in National Development