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2 May 2017

Outcome of the OECD Guidelines Case brought by BWI on FIFA and Qatar: FIFA Accepts Responsibility

The Swiss National Contact Point (NCP) charged with implementing the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises has announced the outcome of the case submitted by BWI concerning the human rights of migrant construction workers involved in building the infrastructure and stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.

The BWI welcomed the statement and the mediation process that facilitated discussions and agreement between FIFA and BWI. The outcome covered many areas including the FIFA’s responsibility to use its leverage, processes for monitoring labour conditions, establishment of an oversight body on-the-ground, and mechanisms to address workers’ complaints and labour conditions. However, the real test of the success of the outcome will depend on the concrete work that is to follow. The BWI will review, togethe rwith the Swiss National Contact Point and FIFA, whether subsequent progress is adequate.

Dietmar Schaefer, Deputy President for BWI and Chair of the BWI Ad Hoc Working Group on Sports Campaign, reacted to the outcome, “It is important that the Swiss NCP was able to improve the quality of dialogue between FIFA and BWI. There is still much progress to be made in the respect for the human rights of migrant construction workers in Qatar, so we are also pleased to see that the NCP will review progress within nine months and seek to facilitate agreement on any further steps, if necessary, on due diligence and to stimulate further movement on the ground.”

The mediation covered many areas including the use of FIFA’s leverage, process for monitoring labour conditions, establishment of an oversight body, and mechanisms to address workers’ complaints and labour conditions.

Nico Lutz, responsible for construction for UNIA and a member of the mediation team for BWI stated, “FIFA’s acceptance of responsibility, including the responsibility to use its leverage to ensure decent and safe working conditions in relation to the 2022 FIFA World Cup is a positive step forward. However, it is early in this process and we await concrete implementation of this commitment on the ground. In this effort, the BWI is an equal partner with FIFA in achieving decent work for migrant workers.”

Prior to the involvement of the Swiss NCP, there had already been exchanges between BWI and FIFA, but there was limited progress. The process initiated by the Swiss NCP based on the 2011 update of the OECD Guidelines which incorporated the major elements of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, helped to intensify and focus engagement between BWI and FIFA.

BWI General Secretary-General Ambet Yuson stated, “BWI, with the active participation of our member organisations, has campaigned for many years for the respect of the basic human rights of construction workers building mega-sport event facilities. Our campaign was designed to produce real and useful dialogue with organisers of such events as well as host governments and relevant construction companies. The Guidelines submission to the NCP that we made in May of 2015 was part of that comprehensive effort to produce good-faith discussions with FIFA and the authorities in Qatar. We appreciate the efforts and persistence of the Swiss National Contact Point in achieving this outcome.”

The establishment of a FIFA Human Rights Advisory Board, which will make recommendations to FIFA in the areas of business and human rights, was acknowledged during the mediation process and it was noted that BWI would be appointed to this oversight body. BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson has subsequently been invited to be a member.

A key point of discussions between BWI and FIFA was how to address workers’ complaints. Yuson noted, “The BWI is pleased that during the discussion there was recognition that the existing procedures were insufficient and needed improvement. The important next step will be for us to move forward quickly to have a constructive dialogue between relevant parties to develop effective mechanisms to fully address all facets of workers’ complaints.”

The dialogue and engagement facilitated by the Swiss NCP have already helped to cement other agreements. Independent of the OECD process, during the period of the mediations, the BWI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy in Qatar that focused on safety and health of migrant workers. The MoU provides for joint health and safety inspections of work sites and accommodation facilities to be conducted by BWI and the Supreme Committee as well as a review of grievance mechanisms. To date two joint inspections have taken place---one in February and the other in April.

BWI and FIFA will also need to address in some detail future bidding procedures so as to ensure that due diligence is carried out and that risks for the violation of human rights are reduced and, to the extent possible, eliminated.

For the full official Final Statement, please click here