Fall 2023 - 60960 - PA 380L - Topics in Public Policy and Law


Sports, whether mere individual physical exercise, simple competitive games, or national/international competition, often intersect with human rights law. Owing to sport’s long tradition of independence and autonomy, national and international jurisdictions only intervene in a limited way in sporting affairs.  This does not mean, however, that there are not questions to be asked, particularly when it comes to protecting international human rights. In fact, sport relies on a rules-based system in all its facets, including athletes, fans, workers, volunteers and local communities, as well as governments, businesses large and small, the media and sports bodies. This seminar examines and unpacks human rights standards and legal commitments to show how human rights are impacted by sporting events or sport activity. The class will address issues such as the human rights of athletes, the basic right to participate in sport and physical activity, remedies for victims of human rights abuses tied to major global sporting events; discrimination against women, LGBT people and persons with disabilities in sport; campaigns against racism and apartheid in sports; the existence of disciplinary systems in the sports movement and the growing number of situations and cases of potential or actual clashes between the running of competitions and human rights standards (e.g. individuals rights in the context of anti-doping, corruption, and match-fixing). In particular, the seminar will discuss cases decided by human rights courts, such as the European and Inter-American Courts of Human Rights (ECHR), and specialized sports arbitration mechanisms, notably the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

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