World Federation of the Deaf held its 18th General Assembly in Durban, South Africa, on 16-17th of July 2011. On the second day of the General Assembly, 114 delegates from 73 countries (each Ordinary Member having one vote) voted for the next country to host the World Congress and elected new board members, President and Vice-President. The WFD’s action plan for the next four years and amendments to the WFD statutes were approved by the General Assembly. The Swedish Association of the Deaf (SDR) made a motion to launch a flag which would represent and unite the whole deaf community. The WFD Board will finalise its position by the end of the year as to whether it will support the usage of a blue and turquoise flag as a symbol of the deaf community.
The General Assembly elected Mr. Colin Allen from Australia as the next WFD President (2011-2015) with 41 votes from 71 eligible votes cast. The other candidates included Dr. Joseph Murray from USA and Dr. Terry Riley from UK. Dr. Murray received 23 and Dr. Riley 6 votes. Mr. Allen has worked extensively over many years with the WFD both as a board member and a project coordinator. He has also been involved in various development cooperation projects all over the world and led the local and national deaf associations in Australia. In addition Mr. Allen has previously been actively involved in the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section through attending various camps. In his presentation to the General Assembly prior to the vote Mr. Allen strongly emphasized the importance of team work in accomplishing deaf human rights in conjunction with WFD’s Ordinary Members. Currently Mr. Allen serves as the Director of Services in the Deaf Society of New South Wales.
For the first time in history, a woman from Africa was elected as the Vice-President of the WFD. This important position was conferred by the WFD General Assembly to Dr. Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen from South Africa with 50 votes (out of 67 eligible votes). The other nine board members for 2011-2015 are Ms. Kaisa Alanne (Finland, new), Joseph Murray (USA), Hasan Dikyuva (Turkey, new), Jose Gaspar Sanabria Ramos (Mexico, new), Hanne B. Kvitvaer (Norway), Terry Riley (UK, new), Dmitry Rebrov (Russia, new), Ramesh Lal Shrestha (Nepal, new) and Nebojsa Vavra (Bosnia & Herzegovina, new)
The next WFD World Congress will be held in 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey. The Turkish Deaf Association’s bid won with a clear majority over Mexico and Germany receiving 48 votes from 71 eligible votes.