Seven Young Ambassadors from the greater Belfast area are preparing to embark on a Commonwealth Games Council led journey to Rwanda where they will be engaged in a world leading programme covering Human Rights in Sport. The Young Ambassadors, aged 17 to 25, have been drawn from the Uniting Communities through Sport and Creativity Programme, a headline action under the Together: Building a United Community Executive Strategy, which is co-delivered on behalf of the Department for Communities by the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and PeacePlayers Northern Ireland.
The Young Ambassadors will attend the Commonwealth Games Federation’s General Assembly and a session of the Commonwealth Forum for National Human Rights Institutions which will be running concurrently in Kigali. This is the first time that the two groupings have come together to run joint sessions connecting Sport and Human Rights. Other agencies attending will include Unicef, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Geneva based Centre for Sport and Human Rights.
Signing the Sport and Human Rights Declaration in April
The travelling party will work with young Rwandan volunteers and community groups, while learning about the events surrounding the 1994 Genocide and the reconciliation efforts that have turned the country around over the last quarter century. It is estimated that nearly 1 million people died during the Genocide, but Rwanda has managed to rebuild and become one of Africa’s most stable countries with an exciting future. It is hoped that lessons around reconciliation and respect will be learnt and brought back to Northern Ireland. The Young Ambassadors will hopefully be able to use their Rwandan experiences to help unite communities at home using sport and creativity.
The Sport and Human Rights initiative is a legacy of the failed bid to bring the Commonwealth Youth Games to Belfast in 2021. However, the Commonwealth Games Council has continued their work with the NI Human Rights Commission and the wider Commonwealth sporting movement to place Northern Ireland at the forefront of a global drive to ensure that sport provides a safe, fair and welcoming environment for all. Locally this has resulted in the creation of a Forum for Sport and Human Rights which brings together sporting and rights-based bodies to share best practice and identify areas for improvement.
Robert MeVeigh (Chair, Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council)
‘We are delighted to be working with a range of partners, both locally and internationally, to provide this unique opportunity for young people to gain experience and understanding of the role that sport can play in promoting Human Rights. Commonwealth Sport has been a strong advocate for Human Rights within the global sporting community over a number of years and we are proud that Northern Ireland is able to play such a significant role.’
Moira Doherty (Deputy Permanent Secretary, Department for Communities)
‘The Department is delighted to support our Uniting Communities Young Ambassadors in taking up the learning opportunity presented by the NICGC. This is a great opportunity for them to expand their own learning and to share the knowledge and skills gained through the Uniting Communities Programme on an international stage.’
The group traveling to Rwanda