Editor’s note:Pedro is an intern at the Asser Institute and
currently studying the Erasmus Mundus Master Degree in Sports Ethics and
Integrity (KU Leuven et al.) He was one of the participants of the first
edition of the Summer Programme on Sports Governance and Human Rights.
In early September, the first Summer Programme on the Governance of Sport and
Human Rights took
place at the Asser Institute. During one week, various experts in the field
presented different lectures to a very diverse group of participants with a
wide range of professional backgrounds. Being a participant myself, I would
like to reflect on this one-week course and share what I learned. More...
Editor's Note: Pedro is an intern at the
Asser Institute and currently studying the Erasmus Mundus Master Degree in
Sports Ethics and Integrity (KU Leuven et al.) He worked as a research fellow for the Centre for Sport and
Human Rights, and his
primary research interests lie in the fields of International Human Rights
can’t do everything and I can’t do it alone. I need allies.” These are the words of the seven-time Formula 1 (F1) world champion,
Lewis Hamilton. He was urging more support to advocate for the protection of
human rights in the countries visited by Formula 1. During the last years, Hamilton together with Sebastian Vettel, have become the leaders of a movement demanding
accountability and greater awareness of the impact of F1 on society.
inclusion of the Bahrain GP on the F1 racing calendar for the first time in
2004 ignited concerns, which have grown with the inclusion of Abu Dhabi in
2007, Russia in 2014, Azerbaijan in 2017, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar in 2021.
The inability and lack of commitment of state authorities to protect and
respect human rights, the ineffectiveness of judicial procedures and the
systematic repression of political opposition are some of the factors that make
these countries prone to human rights violations. Academics and CSOs regularly argue that F1, by signing multi-million dollar contracts with these countries, is complicit in sportwashing. Those pulling the sport’s strings deny
these accusations and claim that human rights are at the centre of their agenda when they visit these countries. They
claim F1 can drive the improvement of human rights standards in a particular
country. However, reality tells a different story. The Bahrain GP has been
running for more than a decade and the situation in the country has only worsened, without any signs of F1 contributing to the
improvement of the protection of human rights there.
blog aims to provide an overview of the human rights challenges F1 is facing when
hosting a Grand Prix. For this purpose, a case study of the Bahrain GP, one of
the longest-running on the modern
F1 calendar, will be carried out. This will allow us to examine in detail the
historical evolution of the GP, the complaints from civil society organisations
and the reaction of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and
other stakeholders to the ongoing allegations of human rights violations.More...
Call for papers
on International Sports Law
Institute, The Hague
25 and 26
The Editors of the International Sports Law Journal
(ISLJ) invite you to submit abstracts for the ISLJ Conference on International
Sports Law, which will take place on 25 and 26 October 2022 at the Asser
Institute in The Hague. The ISLJ, published by Springer and TMC Asser Press, is
the leading academic publication in the field of international sports law. The
conference is a unique occasion to discuss the main legal issues affecting
international sports and its governance with renowned academic experts.
We are delighted to announce the following confirmed
- Jonathan Grix (Professor of Sport Policy and Politics at Manchester
Metropolitan University), and
- Mary Harvey (CEO
at the Centre for Sport and Human Rights),
- Ben Van Rompuy (Assistant Professor at Leiden University).
We welcome abstracts from academics and practitioners
on all issues related to international sports law and governance. We also welcome
panel proposals (including a minimum of three presenters) on a specific issue.
For this year’s edition, we specifically invite submissions on the following themes
- International sports law and governance in times of conflict:
- The emergence of the idea(l) of political neutrality of
SGBs and its translation in legal/governance practice
- The intersection between public international law and
international sports law and governance in the context of international
- The role of sports diplomacy/conditionality in the
context of international conflicts
- International sports law and the Russian invasion of
- Human rights and mega sporting events (MSEs)
- The adverse or positive impact of MSEs on (specific) human
- The influence of human rights commitments on the
organisation of MSEs
- The effects of MSEs on human rights in organising
- The responsibilities and strategies of SGBs to ensure
respect of human rights at MSEs
- The role and responsibilities of states in ensuring
respect of human rights in the context of MSEs
- Competition law and challenges to the governance monopoly of SGBs
- The impact of competition law on SGBs and their
- The limits of competition law on effecting change in the
governance of sport
- The specific modalities of application of competition
law to sports governance
- The legitimacy of competition authorities in
Please send your abstract of 300 words and CV no later
than 1 July 2022 to email@example.com. Selected speakers will be informed by 15 July.
The selected participants will be expected to submit a
draft paper by 10 October 2022. Papers accepted and presented at the conference
are eligible for publication in a special issue of the ISLJ subject to
peer-review. Submissions after this date will be considered for
publication in later editions of the Journal.
Asser Institute will cover one night accommodation for the speakers and may
provide a limited amount of travel grants (max. 250€). If you wish to be considered for a
grant, please indicate it in your submission.
Editor's note: Jeremy Abel
is a recent graduate of the LL.M in International Business Law and Sports of
the University of Lausanne.
South African athlete Caster Semenya is in the last lap of her long legal
battle for her right to run without changing the natural testosterone in her
body. After losing her cases before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)
and the Swiss Federal Tribunal, she filed an application
before the European Court of Human Rights (Court). In the meantime, the Court
a summary of her complaint and a series of questions addressed to the parties
of the case.
As is well
known, she is challenging the World Athletics’ Eligibility
Regulations for the Female Classification (Regulations) defining the conditions under which female
and intersex athletes with certain types of differences of sex development
(DSDs) can compete in international athletics events. Despite the Regulations
emanating from World Athletics, the last round of her legal battle is against a
new opponent: Switzerland.
of this article is to revisit the Semenya case from a European
Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) perspective while considering certain
excellent points made by previous contributors (see here,
to this blog. Therefore, the blog will follow the basic structure of an ECHR
case. The following issues raised by Semenya shall be analysed: the applicability
of the ECHR, Semenya’s right to private life (Article 8 ECHR) and to non
discrimination (Article 14 ECHR), as well as the proportionality of the
Sport events, especially when they are of a global scale, have
been facing more and more questions about their impact on local
communities, the environment, and human rights.
It has become clear that their social legitimacy is not a
given, but must be earned by showing that sport events can positively
contribute to society. During this half-day conference, we will debate
the proposal of a European Social Charter for Sport Events in order to
achieve this goal.
In January 2021, a consortium of eight partners launched a
three-year project, supported by the European Commission under the
Erasmus+ scheme, aimed at devising a European Social Charter for Sport
Events (ESCSE). The project ambitions to develop a Charter which will
contribute to ensuring that sport events taking place in the European
Union are socially beneficial to the local communities concerned and,
more generally, to those affected by them. The project is directly
inspired by the decision of the Paris 2024 bid to commit to a social
charter enforced throughout the preparation and the course of the 2024
This first public event in the framework of the ESCSE project,
will be introducing the project to a wider public. During the event we
will review the current state of the implementation of the Paris 2024
Social Charter, discuss the expectations of stakeholders and academics
for a European Social Charter and present for feedback the first draft
of the ESCSE (and its implementing guidelines) developed by the project
members. It will be a participatory event; we welcome input from the
The Asser International Sports Law Centre, powered by the Asser
Institute, is contributing to the project through the drafting of a
background study, which we will introduce during the conference.
Please note that we can
provide some financial support (up to 100 euros) towards travel
and/or accommodation costs for a limited number of participants
coming from other EU Member States or the UK. To apply for this
financial support please reach out to ConferenceManager@asser.nl. `
On Wednesday 26 May 2021 from 16.00-17.00 CET, the Asser International Sports Law Centre, in collaboration with Dr Marjolaine Viret (University of Lausanne), is organising its fifth Zoom In webinar on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) from the perspective of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
We have the pleasure to be joined by Prof. Helen Keller, former Judge at the ECtHR and a prominent dissenter to the majority’s ruling in the Mutu and Pechstein case.
The ECtHR decision
in the Mutu and Pechstein case rendered on 2 October 2018 is widely
seen as one of the most important European sports law rulings. It was
also the first decision of the Strasbourg court dealing with a case in
which the CAS had issued an award. The applicants, Adrian Mutu and
Claudia Pechstein, were both challenging the compatibility of CAS
proceedings with the procedural rights enshrined in Article 6(1) of the
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The court famously declined
to conclude that the CAS lacked independence or impartiality, but did
find that, insofar as Claudia Pechstein was concerned, she was forced to
undergo CAS arbitration and, therefore, that CAS proceedings had to
fully comply with the procedural rights guaranteed in the ECHR. In
particular, the court held that the refusal by CAS to hold a public
hearing, in spite of Claudia Pechstein’s express request, was contrary
to Article 6(1) ECHR. Beyond this case, as highlighted by the recent
decision of Caster Semenya to submit an application
to the ECtHR, the decision opens the way for a more systematic
intervention of the Strasbourg court in assessing the human rights
compatibility of CAS awards and more broadly of the transnational sports
regulations imposed by international sports governing bodies.
Prof. Helen Keller will discuss with us the
implications of the ECtHR’s Mutu and Pechstein decision and the
potential for future interventions by the court in the realm of the lex sportiva.
The webinar will take the form of an interview followed by a short Q&A open to the digital public.
Please note the discussion will NOT be recorded and posted on our Youtube channel.
Editor's note: Michele Krech is a JSD Candidate and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow at NYU School of Law. She was retained as a consultant by counsel for Caster Semenya in the proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport discussed above. She also contributed to two reports mentioned in this blog post: the Report of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Intersection of race and gender discrimination in sport (June 2020); and the Human Rights Watch Report, “They’re Chasing Us Away from Sport”: Human Rights Violations in Sex Testing of Elite Women Athletes (December 2020).
This blog was first published by the Völkerrechtsblog and is republished here with authorization. Michele Krech will be joining our next Zoom In webinar on 31 March to discuss the next steps in the Caster Semenya case.
Sport is the field par excellence in which discrimination
against intersex people has been made most visible.
Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe
Issue Paper: Human rights and intersex people (2015)
Olympic and world champion athlete Caster Semenya
is asking the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to make sure all
women athletes are “allowed to run free, for once and for all”. Semenya
brings her application against Switzerland, which has allowed a private
sport association and a private sport court to decide – with only the
most minimal appellate review by a national judicial authority – what it
takes for women, legally and socially identified as such all their
lives, to count as women in the context of athletics. I consider how
Semenya’s application might bring human rights, sex, and sport into
conversation in ways not yet seen in a judicial forum. More...
Editor's Note: Daniela
Heerdt is a PhD researcher at Tilburg Law School in the Netherlands. Her PhD
research deals with the establishment of responsibility and accountability for
adverse human rights impacts of mega-sporting events, with a focus on FIFA
World Cups and Olympic Games. She published a number of articles on mega-sporting
events and human rights, in the
International Sports Law Journal, Tilburg Law
Review, and the Netherlands
Quarterly of Human Rights.
In the past couple of years, the Fédération
Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) made remarkable steps towards embedding
human rights into their practices and policies. These developments have been
discussed at length and in detail in this
blog and elsewhere, but
a short overview at this point is necessary to set the scene. Arguably, most
changes were sparked by John
Ruggie’s report from 2016, in which he articulated a set of concrete
recommendations for FIFA “on what it means for FIFA to embed respect for human
rights across its global operations”, using the UN Guiding Principles on Business
and Human Rights (UNGPs) as authoritative standard.[i]
As a result, in May 2017, FIFA
published a human rights policy, in which it commits to respecting
human rights in accordance with the UNGPs, identifies its salient human rights
risks, and acknowledges the potential adverse impacts it can have on human
rights in general and human rights of people belonging to specific groups. In
October 2017, it adopted new bidding regulations requiring
bidders to develop a human rights strategy and conduct an independent human
rights risk assessment as part of their bid. In March 2017, FIFA also created
a Human Rights Advisory Board,
which regularly evaluated FIFA’s human rights progress and made recommendations
on how FIFA should address human rights issues linked to its
activities. The mandate of the Advisory Board expired at the end of last
year and the future of this body is unknown at this point.
While some of these steps can be directly
connected to the recommendations in the Ruggie report, other recommendations
have largely been ignored. One example of the latter and focus of this blog
post is the issue of embedding human rights at the level of national football
associations. It outlines recent steps taken by the German football association
“Deutscher Fussball-Bund” (DFB) and the Dutch football association “Koninklijke
Nederlandse Voetbalbond” (KNVB) in relation to human rights, and explores to
what extent these steps can be regarded as proactive moves by those
associations or rather spillover effects from FIFA’s human rights efforts. More...
Editor's note: Faraz Shahlaei
is a JSD Candidate at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. His research and
teaching interests are public international law, international sports
law, international human rights and dispute resolution.
The issue of international
human rights was a central contention in Caster Semenya case ever since the
start of her legal battle against the regulations of the IAAF. However, the
human rights arguments were poorly considered in the two proceedings related to
this case. To put it in perspective, it is like having a key player nailed to
the bench throughout the whole game; no coach ever tried to give it a chance
while it had the potential to be the game changer for all parties.
In 2019, the Human
Rights Council, the inter-governmental human rights body of the UN, expressed
concern over issues of discrimination in sports in particular regarding
IAAF female classification regulations. In June 2020, the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights submitted a report to the United
Nations Human Rights Council on the “Intersection of
Race and Gender Discrimination in Sport”. The report draws a detailed
picture of how human rights in the Semenya case have been violated and also
elaborates on the inherent problem of addressing human rights issues in
alternative dispute resolution mechanisms favored by the sport governing
bodies. However, despite an in-depth discussion of Caster Semenya’s case at
both the CAS and then the SFT, the question of human rights, a key concern and
a fundamental pillar of the case, hasn’t been adequately answered yet! More...
Thomas Terraz is a fourth year LL.B. candidate at the International and
European Law programme at The Hague University of Applied Sciences with a
specialisation in European Law. Currently he is pursuing an internship at the
T.M.C. Asser Institute with a focus on International and European Sports Law.
March 05, the T.M.C. Asser Institute hosted ‘Mega-sporting events and human
rights: What role can EU sports diplomacy play?’ a Multiplier Sporting Event
organized in the framework of a European research project on ‘Promoting a
Strategic Approach to EU Sports Diplomacy’. This project funded by the European
Commission through its Erasmus+ program aims to help the EU adopt a strategic approach to sports
diplomacy and to provide evidence of instances where sport can help amplify EU
diplomatic messages and forge better relations with third countries. In
particular, Antoine Duval from the Asser
Institute is focusing on the role of EU sports diplomacy to strengthen human rights in the
context of mega sporting events (MSE) both in Europe and abroad. To this end,
he organized the two panels of the day focusing, on the one hand, on the ability
of sport governing bodies (SGB) to leverage their diplomatic power to promote
human rights, particularly in the context of MSEs and, on the other, on the
EU’s role and capacity to strengthened human rights around MSEs. The following
report summarizes the main points raised during the discussions. More...