IOC Appoints Former U.N. Human Rights Head to Lead Advisory Committee

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein as the chair of its new Advisory Committee on Human Rights. Zeid served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014-2018, where he was a vocal critic of both populist and fascist regimes, and railed against bigotry, xenophobia, and chauvinism.

He also publicly criticized Donald Trump, calling him ‘dangerous’ for the international community, and warned Britain to not allow Brexit to devolve into xenophobia. He was spoke against the attempted coup in Turkey and the retaliatory killings; and the Saudi intervention into Yemen.

The full composition new committee, that will consist of 6-to-9 members with both sport and human right expertise, will be announced in March of 2019. The IOC says that the committee will be “a key instrument to help the IOC meet its human rights responsibilities and addressing the organization’s salient human rights risks through a comprehensive strategic approach and policy.”

The IOC in past years has played both sides of the line on matters of human rights. Before the 2008 Olympic Games, protesters criticized the IOC for its handling of China-Tibet relations and human rights abuses by China against Tibetans. The IOC remained largely silent on the matter at the time, though they’ve since cancelled the global Olympic torch relay. Since then, however, the IOC has established a Refugee Olympic Team designed to bring international attention to human rights problems around the world.

The full announcement, courtesy the IOC, is below:

“We are extremely pleased that HRH Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein accepted to chair this new IOC Advisory Committee on Human Rights. The IOC will greatly benefit from his expertise and experience. I would like to thank him for taking over this very important position”, IOC President Thomas Bach said in Tokyo. “Promoting humanistic values in sport has been a core feature of the IOC since its beginning. Our mission, to put sport at the service of humanity, goes hand-in-hand with human rights, which is part of our DNA.”

The Advisory Committee will consist of six to nine members, with sport and human rights expertise. The composition of the full Committee will be announced in March 2019.

The new Committee will be a key instrument to help the IOC meet its human rights responsibilities and addressing the organization’s salient human rights risks through a comprehensive strategic approach and policy. This is related to the IOC’s spheres of work, including its operations and in the staging of the Olympic and the Youth Olympic Games. It will report to the IOC Executive Board and the IOC President.  While regular public reporting is not expected, it is not to be excluded either.

The decision of setting up the Advisory Committee is another direct result of Olympic Agenda 2020. It also follows the inclusion of human rights standards into the “Operational Requirements” of the Host City Contract for the Olympic Games 2024 and beyond. They explicitly require Organising Committees to comply with applicable local, regional and national laws as well as international agreements and protocols “with regards to planning, construction, protection of the environment, health and safety, labour and anti-corruption laws” on “development projects and other projects necessary for the organisation of the Games”.

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Jay ryan

The title would read better with “U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS’ intend of the current “UN HUMAN (unhiman?) RIGHTS”.

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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