Cambridge, MA – Harvard Kennedy School Professor and former United Nations top official on business and human rights John Ruggie has been asked by the world governing body of football, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to develop recommendations for embedding the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into FIFA’s policies and practices. His recommendations will be based on a comprehensive review of human rights in the context of FIFA’s activities and events. Ruggie will publish an independent public report at the end of March 2016.

Ruggie will undertake the review, develop recommendations, and produce the independent report under the auspices of Harvard Kennedy School, where he is the Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs. The Kennedy School has chosen to engage in this initiative because it offers unique educational opportunities for its students as future policymakers and will add to the depth of the School’s research and teaching on business and human rights.

"FIFA's global reach means that this initiative has the potential to make a difference where it matters most: in the daily lives of people,” said Ruggie. “As with any such process, I fully recognize that there will be challenges and complex change takes time. However, this has the potential to set the bar for other global sports organizations, and place respect for human rights front and center for a broad range of entities involved in global sporting events."

"This is another important step in our ongoing reform process,” said acting FIFA President Issa Hayatou. “I am proud to see that FIFA is taking the lead among international sports organizations on such an important topic. Football and FIFA have an important role to play in this field; respect for human rights has to be at the core of our sport."

Ruggie's recommendations will focus on FIFA's implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, authored by Ruggie during his mandate as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights from 2005-11. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, describes the Guiding Principles as "the global authoritative standard, providing a blueprint for the steps all states and businesses should take to uphold human rights." The Economist magazine has referred to them as a "watershed event" in putting human rights more firmly on the business agenda.

This initiative builds on FIFA’s commitment to recognizing the relevance of the UN Guiding Principles to its operations, seeking technical support from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and announcing publicly its plans to make the Guiding Principles part of how it conducts its activities.

Ruggie will be supported by a team from Shift, which he chairs, whose experts work globally with businesses, governments, civil society and international organizations to embed the Guiding Principles into practice.  Ruggie and his team will consult with a range of internal and external stakeholders to undertake this review and develop his recommendations.


Harvard Kennedy School: Doug Gavel,;617-495-1115

Shift: Gerald Pachoud, Project Coordinator,, +41 (0)79-900-8166

FIFA: FIFA Media Department,; +41-(0)43-222 7272;; Twitter


  • FIFA approached Ruggie in August 2015, with an interest in drawing on his expertise in assisting the organization as it strives to further embed respect for human rights into all aspects of its operations in line with the UN Guiding Principles.
  • Ruggie and his team will have access to FIFA documents and personnel to conduct their review and compile their recommendations.
  • Ruggie's independent report will include recommendations on how to embed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into current FIFA policies and practices.
  • FIFA will review the recommendations in the report and decide on their implementation.


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