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26/07/14 12:24

Beyond the Games: Living the Values - Humanity, Equality, Destiny

Minister for External Affairs and International Development, Humza Yousaf
Beyond the Games Conference, Saltire Centre, Glasgow Caledonian University
21 July 2014

My thanks to Chris and to Beyond Sport for their organisation of today’s event here in the Saltire Centre in Glasgow Caledonian University.

Today’s event recognises that sport is not merely an end in itself. It can act as a gateway to improved health and wellbeing, a greater quality of life, and a more cohesive and connected society.

This is an exciting time for Glasgow, and for Scotland. This week and next, Glasgow will host 71 countries and territories and more than 6,500 athletes and officials across 17 sports. 2014 is a momentous year for Scotland - a unique year to our nation, the Commonwealth and our progressive values at home and beyond. It is a momentous year for Glasgow, too. I will not steal Archie Graham’s thunder – suffice it to say that, as a passionate citizen of this city, I am particularly proud to be standing here today.

The Scottish Government is committed to creating an equal and fair society for everyone, built on the fundamental values of a nation free from prejudice, discrimination and victimisation, and tackling injustice and exclusion in all forms. The Commonwealth Games values of humanity, equality and destiny are universal and cherished in Scotland. They represent a focal point for the expression of, and reflection upon, these values - they are a force for good that can help change outdated and intolerant views wherever they still exist across all nations. I hope that everyone participating in the Games in whatever form reflects on these values and how we in the Commonwealth may further strive to translate these into reality for our citizens.

Scotland is committed to the creation of a modern, inclusive Scotland that fights to protect, respect and realise human rights, and we firmly believe that everyone is entitled to live with dignity. In December 2013, Scotland’s first National Action Plan for Human Rights on 10 December 2013 was launched. Facilitated by the Scottish Human Rights Commission in partnership with Government and wider society, it commits us to working together to create a Scotland and a wider world where everyone lives with fundamental human dignity. I have no doubt that SNAP and the transformative, collaborative approach it is engendering across Scotland, will make a substantial contribution to creating a better culture, building better lives and contributing to a better world.

As we approach the start of the Games in just over 48 hours, now seems an opportune moment to highlight the achievements of the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee and all the partners involved in delivering the Games in not just making this the most successful Games ever, but in embedding human rights at the heart of Games delivery. On 10 December 2013 – to coincide with the launch of Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights – the OC published its own approach to human rights. This approach recognises that, at heart, the Games are about people, and the OC has sought to translate fundamental rights into the areas of its business – from ensuring that procurement is sustainable, to paying the living wage to staff, through to ensuring religious and political beliefs are respected and accommodated.

Ensuring that the Games are open to all is critical part of that – in a year where Para-sports are fully integrated into the Games, we are committed to ensuring that the Games are inclusive and accessible so that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the events and celebrations of the Games. We have considered training, access, transport, spectator experience, ticketing and facilities in seeking to ensure everyone enjoys a positive experience, although we recognise that more can always be done. Achieving equality is about much more than wheelchair ramps or braille signs – it is about looking at what we are trying to do, seeing that through the eyes of the person we are trying to do it for and asking that person what it is they need. That is the essence of a human rights based approach, which encourages participation, accountability, non-discrimination, seeks to empower individuals and recognises human rights standards as international legal instruments.

In just over 48 hours, the eyes of the world will be upon Scotland. The Games represents as opportunity for us to come together as a family of nations and reflect upon these values of humanity, destiny and equality and what they mean. And there are challenges.

In many parts of the Commonwealth, human rights are being infringed. As a Government, we are clear that we condemn human rights abuses wherever they occur, and that we expect states to abide by international human rights standards. However, we do not seek to lecture and it would not be appropriate or constructive for us to do so. We recognise that many nations are on a journey, a journey that Scotland has been on and continues today. Although I was proud to be part of a Government that legalised same sex marriage in Scotland earlier this year, we should not forget that that homosexuality itself was only legalised in Scotland in 1980. The Pride Flag will fly above St Andrews House – Scottish Government headquarters - for the duration of the Games – that demonstrates how far we have come in Scotland.

Our approach to achieving equality, tackling non-discrimination and fostering good relations is a positive and progressive one today, and while great strides have been made, we have much to do in Scotland to become the diverse, tolerant and multicultural society we know we can be. A deep sense of fairness is part of the fabric of life in Scotland, and this Government is committed to tackling injustice and exclusion at home and internationally.

So, we wish to engage in dialogue with others, and share our experience and our expertise from our own journey. The power of the Games is that they people of different nations and cultures together to celebrate our commonality, humanity and diversity and to engage in that intercultural dialogue that enriches us all. This commonality is enshrined within the Commonwealth Charter, which brings together the values and aspirations which unite the Commonwealth - democracy, human rights and the rule of law, expressing the commitment of members to the development of free and democratic societies and the promotion of peace and prosperity to improve the lives of all. That is a helpful context in which dialogue can take place.

It is essential that we demonstrate our commitment to human rights throughout the Commonwealth as part of our practical efforts overseas. We are working to strengthen and empower communities across the Commonwealth. In South Africa, which celebrates its 20th anniversary of democracy this year, we are funding the construction of more than 1800 houses for vulnerable communities in Johannesburg. In Uganda, our funding is supporting more than 2000 young people whose lives have been affected by conflict. And in Malawi, at a project I visited myself last year, our funding is providing improved infrastructure and sanitation for over 100,000 people and helping 2,400 deaf children to attend school. These are solid, practical example of where we can make a real difference in fulfilling the human rights of real people.

I could not mention South Africa without mentioning Nelson Mandela. I was delighted to take part in International Mandela Day on 18 July. The overarching objective of Mandela day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere. And later this week, I will be hosting an international development event with Commonwealth Ministers and representatives from civil society, the private sector and faith groups. The morning session of this event will focus on aid and trade in Sub-Saharan Africa & South Asia, and how that can support sustainable economic growth, and in the afternoon we will host the European Launch – in Scotland – of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, in partnership with the UN. Scotland is making its mark and fulfilling its international obligations, and I am proud to be part of that.

Back in Scotland, inequality and discrimination takes a more immediate focus when looking at participation in sport and the Commonwealth Games. There should quite simply be no barriers at all to participating in sport. Everyone should be able to participate in and enjoy sport – whoever they are and whatever their background. Scotland is a nation of sports lovers, and that love is shared by many irrespective of gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion or race. Homophobia and Transphobia in sport remains a serious issue, and we are committed to showing leadership to see this tackled. Pride House on Albion Street is a fantastic example of that commitment – the Scottish Government is proud to support this initiative and has worked closely with LEAP Sports Scotland, our LGBT sports inclusion body, to deliver a welcoming venue for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes, fans and visitors during the Games. They have done a fantastic job, and I hope you will take some time to visit Pride House for one of the many events on offer.

We are working with key partners to embed inclusion across sport and ensure all who wish to access sport have the opportunities and support they need to do so. I commend the work of organisations such as Scottish Disability Sport, who are working to ensure that pupils with disabilities are included in physical education and school sports. And there remains work to do to encourage the participation of women and girls – that is why we have established a short term working group for Women in Sport to consider the best way to raise the profile of women in sport through athletes, business and the media.

So, it is vital that the Games can act as a positive force for inclusion not just this week or next, but for decades to come. Since 2008, the Scottish Government and its partners have been planning a legacy fit for Scotland. And today marks a special milestone in the delivery of Scotland’s 10-year Legacy Plan. With over 50 National Legacy 2014 Programmes, I am delighted with our achievements so far. These achievements are made possible by the excellent partnership working of a whole host of organisations - local and national, public and private – committed individuals all working together to secure a legacy for Scotland. Just shortly, I will be presenting the Dell Scotland Legacy 2014 award, which recognises projects that embody the values of the Commonwealth.

It is our wish that the Games can act as a positive catalyst for encouraging all of Scotland to participate in sport. The benefits of participation are well known – indeed, world class performances can inspire the whole nation to become more active. A long-term, population-wide shift in sports participation and activity levels, however, is unlikely without genuine efforts to embed legacy into the way we do things in Scotland. That is why we launched a new Physical Activity Implementation Plan earlier this year, entitled ‘A More Active Scotland: Building a Legacy from the Commonwealth Games’. We want physical activity and sport to be a daily part of everyone’s life, to play a key role in providing opportunities for people to achieve their full potential.

Sport can be a powerful catalyst for change in so many areas. It can be used to challenge discrimination, reduce reoffending and provide pathways to positive destinations for individuals. In March, I announced that vulnerable people in Scotland and the poorest Commonwealth countries would benefit from a new £1.5 million joint-legacy initiate between SG and Sport Relief, building on the successful Home and Away Programme I mentioned earlier. And in May, through our hugely successful CashBack for Communities Programme, the Scottish Government announced an additional £500,000 over three years to support and enhance Street Soccer’s Changing Lives Programme with vulnerable young people across Scotland, to provide some 37,500 new opportunities for young people to make a positive change to their lives through sport and physical activity.

In all of this, let us not forget the importance of our children and young people. They have been at the heart of legacy and are the key to sustaining legacy beyond the Games. We have seen their enthusiasm to get involved in so many ways, across all parts of Scotland. We must continue to harness and direct this enthusiasm.

2018 will be the Year of Young People in Scotland, and at Scotland’s Legacy Celebration event, the Cabinet Secretary for Commonwealth Game and Sport announced the Scottish Government will invest £150,000 to support the work of UNICEF in reaching every child in Scotland by 2018. The project will empower children all over Scotland to understand their rights and the rights of children around the world – contributing to a strong and lasting legacy for young people. This is part of this Government’s broader commitment to realising the rights of the child - making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. We are the first Scottish Government to have legislated to directly recognise the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Scots law and are committed to ensuring that the rights of children are considered whenever decisions are being taken which will affect them. Our children and young people are our future – many of them will enjoy the Games today, and they will hopefully reap dividends from the legacy of the Games for a long time to come.

Critical to this legacy is the future of our economy and our infrastructure. The Games will act as a powerful catalyst for regeneration across Scotland. The Scottish Government’s purpose is to create the conditions for all of Scotland to flourish through sustainable economic growth, and this has been challenged by the economic downturn and UK Government austerity plans. That is why we must harness the power of the Games to deliver benefits for our communities. Barcelona, Manchester and London are often used as examples of successfully using a major event to stimulate urban regeneration. There is no doubt the Games has been a strong catalyst for such regeneration, with Clyde Gateway laying the foundations for unparalleled change.

Integral to the success of a post-Games legacy, however, is ensuring community-led transformation continues at a pace and scale never seen before. Indeed, following the Games, the role of the community will continue to be strengthened, recognising that long term success will only be achieved if communities themselves are at the heart of regeneration. There are also opportunities to grow Scotland’s role in the global event sector, both within Scotland and overseas.

We must capitalise on the venues, infrastructure, business, volunteering and skills base which have been developed through the Games. Scotland is well placed to compete on a global stage for major events in the future, and improving accessibility has real potential to help achieve tourism industry growth ambitions and boost the wider economy. But let us not underestimate the challenge of growing the legacy once the Games are behind us. Now is not the time to take the foot off the pedal. We must harness the goodwill and the partnerships which have developed, and continue to drive legacy forward.

In drawing to a conclusion, I should link in all I said to the purpose of today’s event, which explores how we can live the Commonwealth values of humanity, destiny and equality through the power of sport and the power of the Commonwealth Games, looking beyond the Games to what may be possible. In considering that question, I would answer that it is essential to look at what we are doing through the lens of human rights. Sport and the Commonwealth Games are, at heart, about people. People who have fundamental rights that are both universal and indivisible.

The rights to life, from discrimination, from torture or enslavement, to a fair hearing under due process, and to freedom of thought, conscience, assembly, belief and association are well known. These cannot be separated from the right to a standard of living, to work, to play, to education, to health – and the right to cultural participation, which includes sport. These rights were agreed by the international community as it strove for a better world following the darkness of events in the twentieth century. We might believe that we are now very far from those days, although we cannot be complacent – acts of barbarism and inhumanity continue to take place on a regular basis around the world. And we have much to do to ensure that the real life experiences of all those in the Commonwealth are progressively raised to an ever higher standards. This requires good policy, the fair and equitable distribution of resources, as well as the commitment and ability of duty holders in Government and public service to do the right thing.