The 5th Symposium on Leprosy and Human Rights, sponsored by the Nippon Foundation, was held at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva on June 18, 2015
This symposium is the last of the series of international symposia held in different regions of the world aiming to implement the Principles and Guidelines of the “Resolution to Eliminate Discrimination and Stigma against People Affected by Leprosy and their Family Members" adopted at the 2010 United Nations General Assembly. The first symposium was held in Brazil in 2012 followed by India (2012), Ethiopia (2013) and Morocco (2014)."The Principles and Guidelines" state specific action guidelines that are to be observed by each country, such as abolishing discriminatory laws and systems towards people affected by leprosy. At this final symposium there were presentations on the follow-up reports to the UN resolution based on the results of the past 4 symposia and recommendations concerning action plans were put on the table, for the first time.
Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and sponsor of the symposium, who has made tremendous effort to submit a resolution to the United Nations since 2003 and for a global dissemination of the “Principles and Guidelines” after the Resolution was adopted in 2010, on looking back at the results of past 4 symposia stressed in his speech the importance of carrying out the "Principles and Guidelines" effectively.
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Symposium on Leprosy and Human Rights
June 26, 2015
Last symposium held in Geneva
Japanese Government submits a new resolution
The 5th Symposium on Leprosy and Human Rights was held in Geneva on June 18th. Series of symposia were held following the United Nations adoption of the “Resolution to End Discrimination Against People Affected by Leprosy and their Family Members” submitted by the Japanese Government, in 2010.
This is the last of the series which were held with a goal to disseminate the "Principles and Guidelines" (hereafter P&G) which seeks to obtain careful consideration by each government to the resolution.
Ambassador Kaji of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva attended the symposium. She expressed the intention of the Japanese Government to submit a new resolution on "The Elimination of Discrimination Against People Affected by Leprosy and their Family Members" to the 29th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council then in session with a view for further effective implementation of the "P&G"
The Nippon Foundation has hitherto held the “Symposium on
Leprosy and Human Rights” in 4 different regions of the world. People affected by leprosy, human rights specialists, lawyers,
health professionals, representatives of the United Nations agencies totaling to approximately 100 people attended this last of the 5 symposia.
Video messages were received from UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and WHO Director General Margaret Chan.
Mr. Narsappa, representative of Indian people affected by leprosy talks of his life story.
Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, the Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, who is entrusted by the Japanese Government as Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of the People Affected by Leprosy and at the same time is the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination strongly appealed at the symposium that government level initiatives were of critical importance in implementing the "P&G".
Leprosy is one of the oldest and the most misunderstood diseases known to mankind. With advancement of science leprosy has become curable and medicine is available free of charge anywhere in the world today. Yet, fear, prejudice and discrimination that have been implanted in the minds of people over the centuries cannot be erased easily and people affected by leprosy have been harshly discriminated. The Nippon Foundation has taken this as a very serious violation of human rights. Led by Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, the Japanese Government Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of People Affected by Leprosy, the Foundation has for many years endeavored to eliminate discrimination by appealing to the Human Rights Commission in 2003 and thereafter at various symposia including this Geneva symposium.
A photo exhibition of people affected by leprosy around the world was held simultaneously with the 5th Symposium from June 17 -24 at the United Nations as a side-event of the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council, sponsored jointly by the Government of Japan and the Nippon Foundation.
H.E. Ambassador Yoichi Otabe of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva, Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, Dr. P.K. Gopal from India representing the people affected by leprosy, Mr. Craig Mokhiber of the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights all spoke strongly that it is of vital importance to solve the issue of discrimination attached to leprosy.