The right of access to and participation in sport and play has been recognised in a number of international conventions.
Right to physical education and sport as a fundamental right for all
The practice of physical education and sport is a fundamental right for all
1.1. Every human being has a fundamental right of access to physical education and sport, which are essential for the full development of his personality. The freedom to develop physical, intellectual and moral powers through physical education and sport must be guaranteed both within the educational system and in other aspects of social life.
1.2. Everyone must have full opportunities, in accordance with his national tradition of sport, for practising physical education and sport. developing his physical fitness and attaining a level of achievement in sport which corresponds to his gifts.
1.3. Special opportunities must be made available for young people, including children of pre-school age, for the aged and for the handicapped to develop their personalities to the full through physical education and sport programmes suited to their requirements.
Declaration of Punta Del Este, third International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS III) 1999 committed to a focus on sport for all, with particular attention to the participation of children and women.
Declaration , A World Fit for Children , UN General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/S-27/2) 2002, calls for governments, multilateral agencies, civil society, the private sector and the media to ensure children’s enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
Right to education directed at the fullest development of human personality
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
Right to take part in cultural life
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone:
(a) To take part in cultural life.
Right to rest and leisure
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
Right for children to engage in play and recreational activities
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
Women’s right to participate in recreational activities and sports
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure to them equal rights with men in the field of education and in particular to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:
(g) The same Opportunities to participate actively in sports and physical education;
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in other areas of economic and social life in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:
(c) The right to participate in recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life.
Declaration, Windhoek, Namibia, 1998 called for the promotion of sport as a means to realize broader goals in health, education and women’s rights.
Declaration, Montreal, Canada, 2002 recognised that realising these goals involves a variety of actions including information and advocacy campaigns and the integration of sport into community development projects.
Declaration, Kumamoto, Japan, 2006 expressed participations’ commitment to building a collaborative network to realize gender equality in and through sport.
Right of persons with disabilities to participate in sport on an equal basis with others
Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport
5. With a view to enabling persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others in recreational, leisure and sporting activities, States Parties shall take appropriate measures:
a. To encourage and promote the participation, to the fullest extent possible, of persons with disabilities in mainstream sporting activities at all levels;
b. To ensure that persons with disabilities have an opportunity to organize, develop and participate in disability-specific sporting and recreational activities and, to this end, encourage the provision, on an equal basis with others, of appropriate instruction, training and resources;
c. To ensure that persons with disabilities have access to sporting, recreational and tourism venues;
d. To ensure that children with disabilities have equal access with other children to participation in play, recreation and leisure and sporting activities, including those activities in the school system;
e. To ensure that persons with disabilities have access to services from those involved in the organization of recreational, tourism, leisure and sporting activities.
Right to be free from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
World Conference against Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Declaration, Durban, 2001
86. Calls upon States to promote measures to deter the emergence of and to counter neo-fascist, violent nationalist ideologies which promote racial hatred and racial discrimination, as well as racist and xenophobic sentiments, including measures to combat the negative influence of such ideologies especially on young people through formal and non-formal education, the media and sport;
218. Urges States, in cooperation with intergovernmental organizations, the International Olympic Committee and international and regional sports federations, to intensify the fight against racism in sport by, among other things, educating the youth of the world through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires human understanding, tolerance, fair play and solidarity.
Doping Free Sport
At its thirty-third session on 19 October 2005, the UNESCO General Conference unanimously adopted the International Convention Against Doping in Sport. This is the first time a legal instrument aimed at eradicating doping has been both binding and universal. The Convention also reinforces the international commitment against child doping, namely article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which states that: “States parties shall take all appropriate measures … to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties.”
The adoption of the International Convention against Doping in Sport is a key milestone in the fight against doping in sport and empowers the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to enforce the measures stated in the World Anti-Doping Code.
The ruling body of the International Convention against Doping in Sport is the Conference of Parties, which is responsible for its implementation. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is invited as an advisory body to the Conference of Parties while UNESCO provides the secretariat.