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ENGSO Youth at the 2018 UN Social Forum


Geneva, 1-3 October 2018 - The Social Forum is an annual three-day meeting convened by the Human Rights Council. The welcoming, colourful and immense Room XX in Palais des Nations was the location of the main panel sessions and proved to be fitting for an event that aims to create a space for open and interactive dialogue between civil society actors, representatives of Member states, intergovernmental organizations and other stakeholders of the particular theme.

This year‘s theme centered on the possibilities of using sport and the Olympic ideal to promote human rights for all and to strengthen universal respect for them. As in all past Forums, the theme is chosen by the Council and takes into consideration those themes which engage all actors of society. This is apparent from the list of previous themes, including a people- centered development and globalization (2012) and Human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with disabilities (2016).

In setting the theme to this year’s Forum on the possibilities of using sport and the Olympic ideal to promote human rights for all, the Human Rights Council made a clear signal that not only does sport and sport for development have a place on the agenda but also that those working at the intersection of sport and human rights should coordinate their efforts to move towards collective actions based on the principles of social justice, equity and solidarity and which can be critical to addressing the challenges of on- going globalization processes and their local to global impacts.

Adding sport to the agenda could have been seen with a critical eye, particularly to those who conceptualize sport at the high level, relating only to the Olympics and the Olympics movement or the sport federations. However, the forum, which was steered by Chairperson-Rapporteur, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative Ambassador Mr A.L.A. Azeez, led panels and discussions which brought in various voices and perspectives, not just those from the elite levels of sport and sporting institutions.


In order to address the topic of the different roles of sport in development, including and relating to both social and economic outcomes, as well as its overall intersection with human rights guidelines and standards, diverse and knowledgeable speakers and representatives had to be convened. This was the case for all of the panels, which focused on a myriad of diverse topics from ‘sports and the equal rights of men and women’ to ‘sports and rights at work’ to ‘youth, children and future generations.’

The latter was where ENGSO Youth was identified as being a key contributor to the discussion, leading to the active involvement of ENGSO Youth Vice Chair Ms Nevena Vukasinovic on a panel with Ms Jennifer Macapagal, representative of UNESCO Coordinated Youth and Sport Task Force, Ms Miki Matheson, International Paralympic Committee Education Committee member, Mr. Mutaz Essa Barshim, Qatari track and field athlete and Mr Richard Loat, representative of the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group.

On being placed on the last day, the ENGSO Youth team had the chance to listen and learn as to where the youth voice was also present among other thematic areas, whether relating to the ‘born free and equal in dignity and rights’ where Mr Willie Littlechild, to to understand how the youth voice and its various dimensions were being presented or engaged in the other thematic panels. Taking place on the last day of the Forum also allowed the panelists and moderator to reflect on the format of the day one and day two panels with the aim of bringing a new or more ‘youthful’ structure to discussing key topics affecting youth in sport. This change in format was appreciated not just by the audience members, who had many chances to interact and engage with the topics and panelists but also by the Chairperson- Rapporteur who praised the group for bringing in an inclusive and engaging structure.

Although the structure of the panel was highly noted, it was the content and topics discussed that moved and challenged the audience. Taking the view of youth, panelists explored the barriers for accessing sport, from those specific to youth with disabilities, to others which are tied to one’s social and economic status and to the community level, where barriers can center on information and infrastructure.

In addressing these barriers, different views were expressed, from Mutaz who believes it is the responsibility of the government, locally and centrally to Nevena who emphasized the significance of international level policies and frameworks. She reiterated that sport should be a choice for all youth and that the narratives around sport should also change to be more reflective and inclusive to all. In giving more context to the topic, Jennifer underscored the numbers of death in Asia pacific attributed to inadequate physical activity and obesity. This is a grave challenge for youth and this is where sport can play an immediate role.

Recognising that youth populations won’t be able to achieve as much alone, each panelist stressed the significance of collaborative efforts, particularly when speaking to protecting human rights through and in sports. Richard reminded the audience that we have to move beyond collaboration for the sake of collaboration, ensuring the have a stronger accountability measures in partnerships and echoing the collection action stressed by the Center for Sports and Human rights.

As representative of ENGSO Youth and involved in various partnerships, Nevena spoke to the importance of incorporating a cross-sectoral approach which should not only include sport businesses, but learn from businesses and how they approach human rights.

Among the many key points discussed, when pertaining to youth, the main takeaways were:

● Before speaking about collective action, focus on collective responsibility

● Be open to new forms of sport, for example-- esports and question how they relate to traditional sports, how they differ and in this difference, what they can offer to those who don’t take part in sports in the traditional ways?

● Don’t be threatened by youth, instead invite them in as equal participators and designers

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Global Youth Advisory on Sports - Hearing

3RD OCTOBER, 2018 9am - 10am

Global Youth Advisory Task Force on Sports shall represents a unique global platform for young leaders in sport: aiming to facilitate youth participation in international sports decisions and dialogues, and provide young people with tools to shape their own future in the sport sector.

It shall represent a coalition of youth-led & sports-based organisations around the globe aimed to promote cross-continental collaboration and provide a platform to develop policies and recommendations to address existing social issues through sport.

Global Youth Advisory Task Force on Sports once constituted: ● advisory mandate for enhancing the role of sport in international processes; ● facilitates the involvement of young people in the decision-making areas of international sport; ● provides a space for youth to share best practices; ● follows the UN-IOC cooperation process through advocacy and production of studies and recommendations; ● creates a youth sport innovation hub.

We are keen on teaming-up with YOU and collecting your opinions and suggestions before the Task Force's Launch in 2019, ahead of #Tokyo2020.

Join us in this joint brainstorming tomorrow at 9am in Room 23rd @ Palais des Nations.

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The global advisory youth group plans to reconvene at the upcoming forum in Paris on December 12- 13th.

More info: Sporting Chance Forum


#UnitedNations #sportforall #socialforum

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