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Gymnastics Ethics Foundation talks “Safe Sport and Human Rights” at IF Forum

Alex McLin, Director of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF) addressed what is expected from International Federations (IFs) on the issue of safe sport and human rights at this week’s IF Forum. The event, organised by SportAccord on 28 and 29 November in Lausanne (Switzerland), brought together hundreds of decision-makers from the international sports community to discuss key issues determining the future of sport.

David Grevemberg CBE, Chief Innovation and Partnerships Officer at the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, set the tone during his opening keynote on human rights by suggesting that for sports organisations to continue to earn their social license, the concept of a VIP should be reframed to stand for leaders who are “Values-based, Impact-driven, and Purpose-led”.

During the subsequent panel discussion on “Human rights in practice – what we are expected to do”, Alex McLin explained the connection of human rights, governance and safe sport and how IFs should approach this important area:

“For International Sports Federations, human rights are a governance issue. IFs are now used to measuring progress on their ongoing journey to better governance. Progress on human rights compliance objectives can be measured in a similar manner.”

He reiterated the central role of athletes, particularly those with lived experience, whose input he considers crucial.

“Among their lessons to us are that our grievance mechanisms must be trauma-informed,” training for which the GEF leadership has recently undertaken. Alex McLin also emphasised that “independence of processes and decision-making provide healthy and effective checks and balances.”

Other speakers on this panel included Ashley Ehlert, Deputy General Secretary and Legal Director of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF); Magali Martowicz, Head of Human Rights at the International Olympic Committee (IOC); and David Grevemberg. Rachel Davis, Vice President and Co-Founder of Shift, joined in virtually from Australia to set the scene.

Sustainability was another key focus at the IF Forum.


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