The potential and momentum of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup is being harnessed as a catalyst for positive social change in Qatar in many areas, including workers’ welfare, a senior official said Monday.
“We recognised the power of the World Cup to drive forward the change required to ensure the health, safety, security and dignity of the people building our nation,” Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), said.
He was addressing the opening of the 38th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Al-Thawadi said the journey to implement necessary reforms has been accelerated as a result of the World Cup coming to Qatar.
“We have built true and lasting partnerships within the international community in a spirit of transparency and openness that has served to guide us on this journey, providing constructive criticism where appropriate, and praise where our efforts have warranted it.”
He explained the ways in which the SC has worked with its contractors to improve the conditions of workers’ welfare, including its rigorous Workers’ Welfare Standards, a robust four-tier auditing system and collaboration with various reputable international institutes including the Geneva-based trade union confederate the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar and Impactt Ltd.
The SC official spoke about the various efforts undertaken by the organisation and its contractors to reimburse unjust recruitment and hardship fees paid by migrant workers engaged on World Cup projects, with reimbursements to date amounting to QR43mn (approximately $11.8mn).
He underscored the ability of sport to provide a platform that can bring people of all backgrounds together at a time when global dialogue is emphasising cultural, political and social differences rather than similarities.
The SC secretary general Hassan al-Thawadi with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, Qatar's permanent representative to the UN Office in Geneva ambassador Ali Khalfan al-Mansouri, and SC's Advisory Unit & Special Projects chief Khalid al-Kubaisi.
“It was this ability of sport of providing a uniting platform that was behind the State of Qatar’s vision for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. That was our inspiration for bidding to host – tapping in to the spirit of the World Cup – an event that truly unites every strand of humanity like no other. We want to harness this ability and ensure that this event is a catalyst for positive change and remembered historically as a rallying point for our region.
“We are building bridges in a region, and for a region, that needs that vision of a better future. People from all corners of the world will visit Qatar in 2022, and for many it will be their first experience and their first impression of the region. We want them to delve beyond the misconceptions perpetrated to divide East and West and experience the richness of our culture, the warmth of our hospitality and our humanity all the while celebrating our love of football together.”
Al-Thawadi stressed the transformative power that mega-sporting events possess, urging the international community present in the session to stand with Qatar in realising this potential and ensuring a better future for upcoming generations.
“For Qatar, the region, and for the international community, the FIFA World Cup in 2022 is a precious opportunity to celebrate our common humanity and advance progress for human rights in our region.”
The session, held three times a year and opened by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, provides an opportunity for Human Rights Council members to discuss the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of effective and inclusive implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson also delivered remarks during the opening of the session, where he discussed the important role education can play in the promotion and protection of human rights, especially women’s rights.
Following the opening, al-Thawadi met with Prince al-Hussein to discuss issues of common interest and means of further enhancing collaboration between the SC and UN Human Rights Council. Prince al-Hussein is concluding his four-year term this summer.
Continuation of collaborations with UN
The participation of Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), at the opening of the 38th Session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in Geneva builds on previous SC engagements and collaboration with the UN over the past year.
These include an SC exhibition on “Harnessing the Power of Sport to Achieve Sustainable Development” that was organised in conjunction with the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2017, participation in an event organised in February 2018 by Qatar's Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva under the title of “Hosting Mega Sport Events: Strengthening the respect for Human Rights”, and most recently the delivery of opening remarks at the official opening session of a UN Office for Drugs and Crime’s special event entitled “Crime Prevention and Sustainable Development Through Sports” held in April 2018.
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