In this essay I will look at the impact the Paralympic Games have had on the human rights of disabled people in specific relation to sport and maintain that whilst there have been significant improvements to the lives of disabled people since the Human Rights Act 1998 what has had the greatest impact on the lives of disabled people and their participation in sport has been the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disability (UNCRDP). All to frequently disabled people although assigned the same rights as non-disabled peopled find themselves outside the framework of the Human Rights Act; nowhere more clearly than in the area of sport. This situation is highlighted perfectly in an extract by Linda Mastandrea of the International Paralympic Committee
“Born with cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia, I grew up sitting on the sidelines watching children play in PE class. I went to the library or study hall. I got to be the team manager, not a player on the team. Unquestionably, this treatment cemented my status as “different”, an “outsider” and someone who could not quite fit in.” Mastandrea(2007 p39).
The Paralympic Games 2012 have shone a light on the excellence that disabled people are able to attain in the area of sport at elite level and have made prominent the discourse around ability and disability. The Games and associated village have also shown a utopian reality of inclusion and accessibility for all when money, staff and motivation are no object, (Evenbreak 2012) the reality is a starkly different one. However I believe that where the attention needs to be focused is not the Paralympics but the community sports where people with disability either physical or intellectual face exclusion, discrimination and barriers when it comes to accessing sport in their local community.
Before I begin a condensed summary of the impact of Article 30.5 within the 2005 UNCRDP I will outline the basics of the 1998 Human Rights Act. Human Rights are assigned to each individual at birth; these rights cannot be changed or taken away by family or state. The aim is to protect basic freedoms of the individual and ensure that everyone has the basic rights and needs to enable a full and happy life. As this essay does not allow me the space to explore fully all the areas that the Human Rights Act affects, I will focus on the area that I feel is most relevant to sport and disabled participation and that is the right to not be discriminated against. This is not to diminish the importance of the other significant and substantial areas that the Human Rights Act 1998 encompasses. Within the Human Rights Act 1998 there are 3 categories; Absolute, Qualified and Limited rights. Absolute rights cannot be changed or broken for any reason; Qualified rights can be amended in certain circumstances and finally Limited rights which, under finite and limited circumstances can be over ridden. All the rights within the Human Rights Act 1998 are additional to the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 established after World War II to safeguard human rights, laws, and democracy.Since its establishment 47 European countries have signed up to the European Convention of Human Rights.
Disability and Sport
As I mentioned above I believe Article 30.5 of the 2005 UNCRDP has had more impact in redressing the inclusivity of sports and challenging the discriminatory nature of recreational sporting in local communities. This article specifically focuses on promoting disabled persons human rights and involvement in leisure, recreational and sporting activities.It has been acknowledged it is a significant step forward in levelling the playing field for all members of the community to become involved in mainstream sport, not just disability-specific sport. This isn’t the first discussion around disabled people and the accessibility...