Gold Coast Commonwealth Games opens with new focus on human rights

A lane swimmer with a Singapore swimming cap Photo: chuttersnap/Unsplash

The Commonwealth Games Federation has adopted its first ever human rights statement, which has been implemented in time for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

According to the Commonwealth Games Federation Chief Executive, the reason for the policy, approved in October 2017, was to “embed human rights within our governance, management systems, development, events, fundraising and marketing”.

By doing so, it aims to combat the tarnishing effect that mega sporting events can have on host cities and human rights.

The Federation has asserted that inclusivity, peace, sustainability and prosperity are at the forefront of its concerns and it is committed to leaving a positive impact on Commonwealth games host communities with human rights as a centre of its vision.

The ten principles of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are fundamental to the policy, and the Federation is undertaking an ongoing process of human rights due diligence to avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through its own activities, and goods and services obtained through its business relationships.

The Commonwealth Games Federation says in its Human Rights Policy Statement that it is committed to respecting all international human rights standards as enshrined within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the UN’s nine core international human rights treaties, among them the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).

Interactions with groups such as children will also be guided by international human rights standards, codes and principles. The Federation says Unicef UK has been directly supporting the Gold Coast 2018 Organising Committee.

The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation has released its own Human Rights Policy, publicly voicing its commitment to managing its human rights impacts. The objectives are:


  • applying United Nations frameworks;
  • complying with human rights legal obligations;
  • conducting due diligence to avoid human rights violations;
  • dealing with minorities with care;
  • providing a safe and healthy workplace;
  • regularly assessing human rights risks and impacts;
  • providing access to grievance mechanisms;
  • investigating human rights breaches; publicly reporting progress; and
  • sharing learnings with the Commonwealth Games Federation for future development.


The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation will be held accountable for the Human Rights Policy through the Board of Directors, CEO, General Manager, workforce and the Manager for Sustainability and Legacy.

These stakeholders are all responsible for overseeing the implementation of the policy and managing its progress. But it doesn't end with the Gold Coast Games.

The Commonwealth Games Federation policy statement outlines the movement’s desire and responsibility to champion human rights in programs, activities and agreements with future host cities and partners.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Human Rights and Business also releasing its new guide for sporting bodies on the eve of the Gold Coast Games.

“Only three years ago this would have been almost unthinkable,” Institute for Human Rights and Business Chief Executive John Morrison said.

“Mega-Sporting Events have all too often been associated with human rights abuses and sport itself remains mired in allegations of cheating, discrimination, abuse and corruption.”

Now, the ball is well and truly rolling on enhancement of human rights in mega sports events.