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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy

NEWS: Another Step Forward

Draft final report on Principles and Guidelines adopted by UNHRC Advisory Committee.

The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee concluded its 18th session in Geneva on February 24, adopting the draft final report on the implementation of the Principles and Guidelines for the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members.

With the report concluding that various forms of discrimination against those affected by leprosy continue to exist in many parts of the world, one of its key recommendations is to establish a specific and dedicated mechanism within existing U.N. human rights machinery to follow up, monitor and report on progress made at the national level on implementing the Principles and Guidelines.

The Nippon Foundation, which facilitated the drafting committee’s research, thanked its members for their efforts following two years of intensive investigations into the state of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and also the extent to which the Principles and Guidelines have been implemented.

In a written statement submitted to the session, the foundation said: “We support the final report’s recommendation calling for the creation of a special procedure under the auspices of the Human Rights Council for the purpose of following up, monitoring and reporting on progress made and measures taken by States for the effective implementation of the Principles and Guidelines. In addition, we welcome the part that recommends that the Human Rights Council encourage the OHCHR to organize seminars, conferences and side events on leprosy-related discrimination in cooperation with States and relevant organizations such as the WHO as well as concerned NGOs.”

The session also received feedback from the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP), which cited findings from a survey carried out by an ILEP panel of people affected by leprosy that underline the need for a monitoring mechanism. Based on 265 responses from 20 countries, the survey found that discriminatory language and practices are still part of the experience of people affected by leprosy; there is little evidence of state involvement in reduction of stigma and discrimination; and many persons affected by leprosy are not able to participate in the elaboration of policies that affect them.

The report will now be finalized and submitted to the Human Rights Council at its 35th session in June this year.