A delegation from Commonwealth Sport Northern Ireland has returned from the 2019 Sporting Chance Forum which took place at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. Hosted by the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, the conference brought together representatives from more than 60 governments, dozens of international sporting bodies, and numerous human rights organisations to discuss the protection of rights within sport and to look at the impact that sport has on global society.
A highlight of the conference was undoubtedly when Aaron Smith from Belfast, a pupil at St Louise’s College, addressed the audience and spoke about safeguarding the rights of young people and their role in influencing policy within sport. Sitting on a panel with representatives from the World Players Association, which represents more than 85,000 professional athletes worldwide, World Archery and the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, Aaron talked about the empowerment of young people within and through sport.
Aaron had previously been part of a Commonwealth Sport NI exchange visit to Rwanda when young people from Northern Ireland joined with their counterparts to discuss the impact of The Troubles and the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi. They specifically looked at how sport can be used to promote the rights of individuals and as a tool for peace and reconciliation.
Aaron Smith – Commonwealth Sport Youth Voice
‘The experience was phenomenal. Being able to represent the voice of young people here at the UN, and in front of such an audience was amazing. The networking opportunities over the two days gave a sense of the reach that we have and the impact that our work in Belfast is having in other countries around the world. To be sharing a stage with government ministers and the likes of FIFA, Human Rights Watch and Mary Robinson was amazing. Listening first-hand to the harrowing story of Hakeem al Araibi was incredibly moving.’