- December 9, 2013

Member Organizations:
Arab Organization of Persons with Disabilities, Disabled People’s International,
Down Syndrome International, European Disability Forum,
Inclusion International, International Federation of Hard of Hearing People,
Latin American Network of Non-Governmental Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and their Families,
Pacific Disability Forum, World Blind Union,
World Federation of the Deaf, World Federation of the DeafBlind,
World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry

IDA Press Release

Former WFD President Receives 2013 United Nations Human Rights Prize

New York, 10 December 2013 – The International Disability Alliance (IDA) congratulates Dr. Liisa Kauppinen, former President of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), on her receipt of the 2013 United Nations (UN) Human Rights Prize.

IDA extends its sincerest congratulations to Dr. Liisa Kauppinen today as she is awarded the 2013 UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights (UN Human Rights Prize). The UN is recognising Dr. Kauppinen on Human Rights Day for her tireless efforts to strengthen the human rights of millions of persons with disabilities worldwide.

The UN Human Rights Prize is an honorary award given every five years to individuals and organisations in recognition of outstanding achievements in human rights, and was awarded today at a ceremony hosted at the UN Headquarters in New York as part of the annual commemoration of Human Rights Day. This year, Human Rights Day observes the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. Fittingly, the theme for the award ceremony is “What should human rights look like in 20 years?”

President emeritus Dr. Kauppinen served the WFD, an IDA member organisation, for more than 30 years. She has also been actively involved with IDA, including serving as chair of the board, since its foundation in 1999. Dr. Kauppinen’s receipt of the Human Rights Prize is evidence that her work has been an inspiration to persons with disabilities, human rights defenders and especially deaf communities everywhere. Among Dr. Kauppinen’s many achievements is her success in securing the inclusion of references to signed languages, Deaf Culture, Deaf Community and the identity of deaf people within the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Currently retired, Dr. Kauppinen remains actively involved with the work of WFD as a voluntary advisor at the organisation’s secretariat in Helsinki, Finland.

Today, Dr. Kauppinen joins a list of highly distinguished recipients of the Human Rights Prize, including former United States First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; US civil rights leader, Martin Luther King; former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela and countless others.

"We are greatly inspired by Liisa's achievement,” said Mr. Colin Allen, current President of the WFD and second vice-chair of IDA. “However, only when Governments meet their obligations under the UN CRPD will deaf people have equality in their everyday lives—only then will Liisa’s life-long ambition for deaf people to have equality be achieved after a lifetime’s work”.

This information is available in International Sign via

The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) is an international non-governmental organisation representing and promoting the human rights of approximately 70 million deaf people worldwide. The WFD is a federation of 133 nations; its mission is to promote the human rights of deaf people and their full, quality and equal access to all spheres of life, including self-determination, sign language, education, employment, and community life. WFD has consultative status with the UN and is a member of IDA. (

The International Disability Alliance (IDA) is a network of eight global and four regional organisations of persons with disabilities and their families (DPOs), representing the estimated one billion persons with disabilities worldwide. Founded in 1999, IDA’s unique composition as a network of international disability rights organisations allows it to act as an authoritative and representative voice of persons with disabilities in the UN system, both in New York and Geneva. (

IDA Geneva Office: 150 route de Ferney, PO Box 2100, CH 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
IDA New York Office: 245 Park Avenue, 39th Floor, New York, NY 10167, United States
Contact email: Cristina Campos at ccampos [at] 

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