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Sporting Chance Forum

  | Tatiana Valovaya Speech

21 novembre 2019
Sporting Chance Forum

Remarks by Ms. Tatiana Valovaya
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

The Sporting Chance Forum
Thursday, 21 November, 9:00
Palais des Nations, Room XX


High Commissioner Bachelet,
Director-General Ryder,
Ms. Harvey,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the Palais des Nations. It is emblematic that the opening of the 4th annual global Sporting Chance Forum is taking place in the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room and I am delighted to see so many of you present today.

First of all, let me thank the co-organizers of the Forum: the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Labour Organization. My sincere thanks go to the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, and especially to its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ms. Mary Harvey, for their dedication and tireless efforts to make this Forum happen.

I would also like to extend my very special recognition to Ms. Mary Robinson, Chair of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, whose dedicated tireless efforts over a number of years actually made this Centre possible.

It is fitting that the Forum is taking place during the week in which the world commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Universal Children’s Day, which is celebrated each year on 20 November since 1954, aims to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide and improve children's welfare. It coincides with the date in 1989 when the Convention on the Rights of the Child was opened for signature.

Today, 30 years later, the Convention is the most ratified human rights treaty. Since its creation, it has brought many changes in national legislation and has played a central role in improving the lives of children all over the world, from supporting their access to their basic rights, to breaking barriers in economic disparities.

This landmark date, however, is an opportunity to remind us that protection of children’s rights all over the world is an ongoing fight. Unfortunately, the world of sport is not immune to human rights abuses, including sexual harassment and assault, most of which go unreported and without remedy for the victims.

We must work together with all stakeholders, such as Sports Governing Bodies, Host Governments, international organizations and human rights-focused NGOs, as well as sponsors and broadcasters of sports events, to make sure that everyone, children and adults alike, is protected from violence in sport.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the often divided and fragmented world we are living in today, sport remains an important connective tissue that binds people together, both across and within societies.
Events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Champions League – to name just a few – are extraordinary moments in people’s lives, bringing nations together and creating new opportunities for cross-cultural communication.

Let us remember the recent diplomatic momentum at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang in 2018, when the North and South Koreans athletes were marching together behind a common flag in the opening and closing ceremonies. Sport has once again proven to be an effective mechanism to break the impasse and get the countries not just talking but working together.

Besides its unique diplomatic power, sport is an important vehicle to teach young generations the lessons of leadership, good health, teamwork, fair play and continuous self-improvement. Participation in sport activities can lead to better performance in school and better lives once students have graduated.

Sport gives young people a chance to fulfil their dreams and unleash their potential to become who they want to be. Because the lessons they learn in sport stay with them for their whole life. From that perspective, it is worth noting that the aim of the Sporting Chance Forum is to leverage collective action to tackle critical human rights challenges in the world of sport in order to enable young people to build relationships and learn skills that they need for being successful, confident and responsible citizens.

Athletes are not the only ones benefiting from sport. For observers and fans, watching sporting events elicits a true inspiration, collective engagement and respect for diversity. And for communities, sports can help increase economic prosperity, provide employment opportunities and lead to significant urban development. From that perspective, sport is a powerful tool to achieve the Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As we are approaching the decade of action to achieve the SDGs, we need to join forces with all stakeholders in order to put sport at the service of the peaceful development of humanity.

I very much hope that the diverse interactive formats of discussions envisaged by the organizers of the Forum will help to further enhance the collaboration among various Sports Governing Bodies, Host Governments, civil society organizations and business communities with the view to make respect for human rights central to the world of sport.

Over the past years, the Sporting Chance Forum has already proven to be a powerful multi-stakeholder platform where the human rights attitudes in sport are not only being discussed but practically tackled at every level. The work to protect human rights is never finished. This is why we all must be human rights defenders and do what we can to make rights and dignity a reality for all.

I wish you a productive exchange of views and a highly successful Forum.

Thank you