Public Diplomacy and the International Paralympic Committee: reconciling the roles of disability advocate and sports regulator

A. Beacom, Ian Brittain

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)
    118 Downloads (Pure)


    While the link between international diplomacy and the Olympic movement has been the subject of extensive academic and journalistic inquiry, the experience of diplomatic discourse as it relates to the relatively youthful Paralympic movement, has received little attention. This is not just in the context of state diplomacy, where for example the Paralympic Games may provide a conduit for the pursuit of specific policy objectives, but also in relation to the engagement of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as an evolving non-state actor, in the diplomatic process. The idea of the IPC as an advocacy body engaged through public diplomacy in promoting disability rights is explored as an element of the contemporary politics of disability. The paper considers the relationship between the activities of the IPC and wider lobbying by disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) as a means of leveraging change in domestic and international policy toward disability. In relation to the global development agenda, the paper assesses IPC responses to the gulf in resourcing for parasport (as well as more fundamental health and education services) between high and low resource regions. It suggests that the asymmetry between national teams, evident in levels of representation and podium success at Parasports events presents a challenge to the legitimacy of the IPC as an international advocate for disability rights. It considers the response of the organization from the perspective of public diplomacy and locates that response within the wider diplomacy of development.
    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Diplomacy & Statecraft on 10 May 2016, available online:
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)273-294
    JournalDiplomacy & Statecraft
    Issue number2
    Early online date10 May 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • international diplomacy
    • Olympic movement
    • Paralympics


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