By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has recently re-issued (20 June 2022) an updated version of its ‘Sport and Human Rights Overview from A Cas Perspective’.
This is a very comprehensive overview of the application to sport of the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which was signed in Rome, Italy, on 4 November 1950 and came into force on 3 November 1953.
The CAS Overview comprises 28 pages and its complete text may be accessed at ‘https://www.tas-cas.org/fileadmin/user_upload/2022.06.20_Human_Rights_in_sport__20_June_2022_.pdf’.
The Overview is divided into the following sections:
The starting point of the CAS review is ‘the Fundamental Principles of Olympism’ as set out in the Olympic Charter in force as of 8 August 2021.
The basic principle is found in paragraph 4 of the Preamble to the Charter, which provides as follows:
“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirt of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
On the vexed question of gender equality and inclusion and human rights, following a two-year consultation with more than 250 athletes and concerned stakeholders, the IOC has issued, in November last year, a ‘Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations’. One of the key recommendations of the IOC Framework is that
“diverse gender identities and variations in sex characteristics should not be assumed as an unquestionable sign of disproportionate advantage nor imply unavoidable risk to other athletes. Rather, any eligibility rules should be based on ethical, credible, and peer-reviewed research.”
Central to and underpinning the CAS procedures is compliance with Article 6.1 of the ECHR, which provides as follows:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgment shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interests of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.”
The CAS Overview on Sport and Human Rights, an important subject nowadays, is well worth a detailed study!