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New Board for World Federation

Taken from the World Right-to-Die Newsletter issue no. 46, Januray 2005.

Top row: Richard McDonald, Derek Humphry, Juan Mendoza-Vega, Libby Drake, Annelies Plaisant, Michio Arakawa; bottow row: Cynthia St.John, Jacqueline Herremans, Faye Girsh, Jacob Kohnstamm, Michael Irwin.
Elected as president of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies for 2004–6 was Jacob Kohnstamm, of the Netherlands, and as vice-president, Jacqueline Herremans of Belgium. Both are attorneys.

Mr. Kohnstamm is chairman of Right-to-Die NL (NVVE), the ­second largest such organization in the world after the Japanese group. Aged 54, he spent 25 years as a ­politician, helping to mould the Dutch euthanasia laws, and is now full-time chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority.

Ms. Herremans, who will become president at the next world conference to be held in Toronto in 2006, is currently president of the Association for the Right to Die With Dignity, in Brussels. Since Belgium passed its Euthanasia laws in 2002, she has been a member of the Federal Commission of Control and Evaluation on the Law on Euthanasia.

Annelies Plaisant, of End-of-Life Choices-Florida, was re-elected treasurer of the World Federation, and Libby Drake (UK) continued as Secretary, a post she has held for the past six years.

Faye Girsh (End-of-Life Choices, USA) was elected newsletter editor in succession to Derek Humphry (President of ERGO, USA), who became an honorary board ­member in recognition of his 25 years of ­service to the World Federation.

Dr. Michael Irwin, Board ­member of FATE (Scotland) serves as Past-President as does Dr. Richard MacDonald (Medical Director, End-of-Life Choices. At-large members include Cynthia St. John, Board member Death with Dignity Canada; Dr. Michio Arakawa, Board Member Japan Society for Dying with Dignity, and Dr. Juan Mendoza-Vega, Board member DMD-Colombia.

Three New Organizations Join WF

New member organizations elected to the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies at its conference in Tokyo on October 3 were:

  1. Libera Uscita, Rome, Italy (Interim ­member) Alessandra Sannella
  2. Final Exit Network, Atlanta, Georgia, USA Earl Wettstein
  3. SAVES, Durbin, South Africa (­readmitted after lapsed ­membership) Louise Pallett

There are ­currently 40 member groups in the World Federation, with membership in each society ranging from 20 to 105,000.

Member Society Changes

OLD MEMBER: Contact has been resumed with The Indian Society to Die with Dignity which is currently conducting an essay competition for college students on the rights of the individual in matters related to death.

MERGERS: End-of-Life Choices (formerly The Hemlock Society USA) merged with Compassion in Dying. The new organization will be called Compassion and Choices and will continue to be based in Colorado and Oregon. Both organizations are WF ­members.

In New Zealand the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Wellington merged with the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (Auckland) Inc. The new national organization will be known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand Inc. Its office will be in Auckland.

WF Board Decisions

  • A working group of the Board has been formed to develop uniformity on the terminology and definitions around End of Life decisions. It will report to the 2006 biennial conference.
  • The maximum a Member Society would pay in fees annually would increase from US$250 to US$1000. The fee is based on 1% of the society’s income. The minimum would now be $50.
  • A new category of Associate Membership is now available for organizations which support the World Federation but which are mainly active in a related field, such as human rights.
  • An emergency motion can be presented by a Member Society at the biennial meeting, if it has the approval of the Executive (of the Board of directors), and its debate has the support of at least two-thirds of the Members present.
  • If the Board considers that a ­decision should be made urgently regarding an import issue that affect the by-laws, and it more then six months until the next biennial meeting, the Secretary will send a motion to a Member Societies for voting. A motion will be deemed as carried if agreed by a majority of Members who have voted (provided that at least two-thirds of the total membership has voted.

Louise Pallet, Saves, Durbin South Africa

Allessandra Sannella, Libera Uscita, Rome, Italy