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European Division of WFRtDS

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History of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies

In 1976 Dr Tenrei Ota, upon formation of the Japan Euthanasia Society (now the Japan Society for Dying with Dignity), called for an international meeting of existing national right-to-die societies. Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States were all represented. This first meeting enabled those in attendance to learn from the experience of each other and to obtain a more international perspective on right to die issues.

The attendees formuklated the following, best known as the Tokyo Declaration 1976.

In recent years, we have become aware of the increasing concern to the individual over his right to die with dignity, or euthanasia. We believe in the rights and freedom of all men. This brings us of affirm this right to die with dignity, which means in peace and without suffering.

Death is unavoidable. But we believe that the manner (and time) of dying should be left to the decision of the individual, assuming such demands do not result in harm to society other than the sadness associated with death.

The Declaration of a person's wishes, or the "Living Will", should be respected by all concerned as an expression of intrinsic human rights. Therefore, at least for the present, we request that this Declaration, or the "Living Will", be made legally effective, and pursuant to this, efforts toward its legalization should be made.

Through the Tokyo International Conference on Euthanasia, or Death with Dignity, the national movements of each country can achieve international cooperation, as well as solidarity. Let us promise ourselves to strive to achieve the above objectives, through the establishment of a liaison center whose purpose will be an exchange of information, as well as the convening of periodically held international conferences.

 

Two years later a second international conference was hosted in San Francisco by the US-based Society for the Right to Die.

 

The World Federation of Right to Die Societies was founded at the third international conference. This was held in 1980 at Oxford in the United Kingdom, and was hosted by Exit, The Society for the Right to Die with Dignity. At this conference the following resolution was unanimously adopted

 

1. That the World Federation of Right to Die Societies be set up:

  • To promote

a) Co-operation and liaison between voluntary euthanasia and right to die societies

b) The dissemination, possibly by means of an international newsletter, of information and educational material about:

  • Voluntary euthanasia and right to die issues and guidances as to the meaning of terms used.
  • Legislation and court judgements and other matters likely to be of interest to societies.

c) International conferences on dying and death.

 

  • To give assistance where requested in the foundation of similar societies in countries which do not have them.  

2. That all voluntary euthanasia and right to die societies be invited to affiliate with the Federation.

 

Since its founding, the World Federation has come to include (2013) 51 right to die organisations from 28 countries around the world, and has held nineteen additional international conferences , each hosted by one of the member organisations.