The IOC Strategic Framework on Human Rights includes 16 objectives to achieve by 2024 across three spheres of responsibility ©Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board has approved its Strategic Framework on Human Rights, which includes a provision to drive "best practices in the selection of future Olympic Games hosts."

A 50-page document released by the IOC details the ways in which the organisation plans to use the framework to shape its, the Olympic Games' and the Olympic Movement's working practices, and ensure that human rights are respected "within their respective remits."

"In order to fulfil the goal of Olympism, all constituents of the Olympic Movement need to respect internationally recognised human rights within their respective remit," the framework says.

It is said to tie in with recommendation 13 of Olympic Agenda 2020+5, which called for the adoption of a strategic framework on human rights as part of a commitment to "lead by example in corporate citizenship."

The approval of the framework comes two-and-a-half years after it received a report entitled "Recommendations for an IOC Human Rights Strategy", produced by Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Rachel Davis, vice-president of Shift, a non-profit centre of expertise on business and human rights.

During that time, it established a Human Rights Unit in March 2021 and released a Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations in November last year.

What are described as "the IOC's three spheres of responsibility" are outlined in the framework, covering the IOC as an organisation, as owner of the Olympic Games and leader of the Olympic Movement.

Five areas of interest also form the basis of the framework - equality and non-discrimination, safety and wellbeing, livelihood, voices and privacy.

The IOC as an organisation covers the areas of governance and administration.

As owner of the Olympic Games, the framework aims to influence the election of future hosts and the organisation and delivery of the multi-sport event.

This marks a notable provision within the framework given that the most recent edition of the Olympics - the Winter Games in Beijing - was marred by criticism of the human rights record of host nation China.

The IOC's Strategic Framework on Human Rights was approved at today's Executive Board meeting ©IOC/Greg Martin
The IOC's Strategic Framework on Human Rights was approved at today's Executive Board meeting ©IOC/Greg Martin

Concerns over China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, and its record in Tibet and Hong Kong, featured prominently in the build-up to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and sparked a diplomatic boycott from Western nations including the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada.

Beijing consistently denied the charges laid against it, and dismissed a recent United Nations (UN) report that found "serious human rights violations" against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang as a "politicised document that ignores the facts."

The IOC's handling of the concerns was criticised by human rights groups, but it consistently rebuffed calls to move the Games and insisted the organisation is neutral on political issues.

The third sphere covered within the framework is the IOC as leader of the Olympic Movement, which involves it accelerating the adoption of human rights-related measures by National Olympic Committees and International Federations.

The IOC said that its work in each of these areas would be carried out in accordance with the UN's Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Included are 16 objectives to achieve by 2024.

These include amending the Olympic Charter at next year's IOC Session, and updating the "Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance" and creating a Human Rights Advisory Committee by the end of the current year.

The IOC also seeks to "promote adherence to the social and environmental standards" in its supply chain.

With regards to electing future hosts, the framework points to a revision in the procedure introduced in 2019 and first used to award the 2032 Olympics to Brisbane, and the introduction of a future host questionnaire which includes a set of questions on human rights at the targeted dialogue phase.

It also referenced a clause on human rights introduced to the Host City Contract in 2019.

Among its objectives in this field, the IOC is aiming to "strengthen the independent assessment to gather information and inform the Future Host Commission about the human rights situation", which includes gathering more information on the human rights situation in the host country or region and clarifying its expectations in terms of the management of the human rights impact.

Notable among the objectives in the leader of the Olympic Movement sphere is encouraging International Federations to review their age regulations.

Concerns over hosts China's human rights record featured prominently in the build-up to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics ©Getty Images
Concerns over hosts China's human rights record featured prominently in the build-up to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics ©Getty Images

IOC President Thomas Bach claimed that the framework strengthened the organisation's human rights provisions.

"The overarching mission of the Olympic Movement is to contribute through sport to a better world," Bach said.

"Human rights are in fact firmly anchored in the Olympic Charter.

"We will be strengthening this even further in the future.

"Our mission, to put sport at the service of humankind, therefore goes hand-in-hand with human rights."

Bach also credited Prince Zeid and Rachel Davis for their work in helping to develop the framework.

In a joint statement through Swift, the pair welcomed the approval of the framework, and said: "This is a significant step for the organisation, and it also sets an important precedent for all sports bodies across the Olympic Movement.

"As the organisation moves forward, new approaches will be needed to effectively address some of the most severe impacts facing athletes today, including harassment and abuse, voice and representation, and the need for greater access to remedy - informed by the perspectives of those directly affected."