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Intergovernmental organisations: Putting safeguarding on the agenda


Intergovernmental organisations: Putting safeguarding on the agenda

In part five of the safeguarding children in sport series, Mark Mungal, director of the Caribbean Sport and Development Association and member of the Commonwealth Advisory Board on Sport, discusses the politics behind the promotion of safeguarding children in Commonwealth sport.

There is no doubt that intergovernmental organisations play a key role in facilitating the development and adoption of global principles, policies and positions on a range of issues that affect member states. Placing new issues on the geo-political agendas of these powerful institutions often requires significant manoeuvering and the use of hardball politics.

In most cases, the reality is that either a strong lobby is created from networks around the globe or a champion is found from within the ranks of the relevant intergovernmental organisations. In the case of safeguarding children in sport reaching global agendas, for the Commonwealth Secretariat and UNICEF it was a combination of both: key players from the inside, championing the cause, supported by equally passionate and committed individuals from the global sport and development fraternity.

Following the first gathering of the International Safeguarding Children in Sport Network at the Beyond Sport Summit in London in 2012, the Commonwealth Secretariat moved to include safeguarding children in sport as one of the three key thematic areas forming the basis of its recommendations to sports ministers of member states. At the Commonwealth sports ministers' meeting in Glasgow in July 2014, the Commonwealth Advisory Board on Sport updated member states on the issue of safeguarding children in sport and member states reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring that safeguards were put in place to protect children and other vulnerable groups participating in sport.

Collaboration has been a fundamental part of the process of promoting the safeguarding agenda – building one main platform rather than developing separate agendas. As members of the International Safeguarding Children in Sport Working Group, the Commonwealth Secretariat and UNICEF have worked with other sport and development agencies to facilitate the development of international safeguards and agree on strategies. It is hoped that this type of engaged collaboration will lead to greater success in achieving the common goal of making sport safer for children across the globe.

As they move from policy development to in-country programme implementation, intergovernmental agencies such as the Commonwealth Secretariat will continue to have a significant role to play in facilitating discussion among member states, experts and the wider community. They also have a role to play in the dissemination of information through publications and formal communiqués outlining the positions agreed to by member states.

Finally, intergovernmental organisations must also accept responsibility for monitoring the progress of member states, based on agreed positions, to ensure that there is commitment to the cause.


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Mark Mungal


Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - 09:30