The Global Appeal

Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of The Nippon Foundation, has in recent years devoted a large amount of time and effort to promoting the human rights of people who are affected by leprosy. One facet of his effort has been the annual delivery of a Global Appeal to End Stigma and Discrimination against People Affected by Leprosy. This appeal has been an attempt, both to raise public awareness through the media, and to draw in the support of world leaders, representatives of people affected by leprosy, and organizations concerned with human rights in general.

Overview

As a part of his many activities on behalf of people around the world who have been affected by leprosy, Yohei Sasakawa has since 2006 lead Global Appeals to End Stigma and Discrimination against People Affected by Leprosy.

The appeals, which have all been held on or near World Leprosy Day, have each been made by different groups of people, but have all had the same basic objective: the restoration of the dignity and human rights of people affected by leprosy. Affected people include the family and relatives of those who have actually fought with the disease—all whose lives have been disrupted by the terrible stigma that leprosy engenders. Individuals have been cast out of society, families have been torn apart, and those who have been cured find that social attitudes continue to wall them out, even today. In today's world, where leprosy is easily curable, the social attitudes that engender these human rights violations are insupportable. Through these Global Appeals, Sasakawa hopes to bring the attention of the world to this surprisingly widespread and tenacious problem.

In 2006, Sasakawa led a group of world leaders and Nobel Peace Prize laureates in announcing the first Global Appeal from Delhi, India. In 2007, representatives of people affected by leprosy joined him in making the appeal from Manila. In 2008, Sasakawa took the appeal to London, where he was joined by eight international organizations working in the field of human rights. Global Appeal 2009, also launched in London, brought together leaders of different religious faiths to affirm that discrimination arising from leprosy is not acceptable in today's world. In Mumbai, Global Appeal 2010 was endorsed by 15 business leaders, expressing their support for the social integration and economic empowerment of those affected by the disease. In 2011, the heads of one hundred of the world’s leading educational institutions signed Global Appeal 2011, which was launched in Beijing, highlighting the message that education can serve to challenge stigma and enable people to overcome social and economic barriers. In 2012, medical professionals from around the world have put their names to the Appeal, saying they have "the first responsibility to set the record straight" regarding the many myths and misconceptions surrounding the disease. Launched in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Appeal was endorsed by the president of the World Medical Association (WMA), Dr. José Luiz Gomes do Amaral, and the heads of more than 50 national medical associations. Global Appeal 2013 (London) received the backing of the International Bar Association and its member organizations, who called for the abolition of discriminatory laws and regulations relating to leprosy.

The most recent appeal, Global Appeal 2014, was launched in Jakarta, with the backing of the National Human Rights Institutions from 39 countries and regions. Giving reference to the December 2010 U.N. resolution on elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, the Appeal declared: “As national human rights institutions, we applaud the U.N. resolution and condemn all leprosy-related human rights violations. We pledge our support to help to bring down the remaining barriers of stigma and prejudice that stand in their way.”

The Global Appeal itself, as well as a message from Sasakawa, and more information about leprosy can be found via the links at the bottom of this page.

Year Signatories Location
GA2016 Junior Chamber International Tokyo, Japan
GA2015 International Council of Nurses Tokyo, Japan
GA2014 National Human Rights Institutions Jakarta, Indonesia
GA2013 Members of the International Bar Association London, UK
GA2012 Members of the World Medical Association Sao Paulo, Brazil
GA2011 World's leading universities Beijing, China
GA2010 World's business leaders Mumbai, India
GA2009 World's religious leaders London, UK
GA2008 Human rights oriented NGOs London, UK
GA2007 Representatives of people affected by leprosy around the world Manila, Philippines
GA2006 The world figures New Delhi, India