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In Focus

Take a closer look at some of the events and actions taking place across the world to highlight how we can stand up for someone’s rights. Join us and together we will make a difference.

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International Albinism Awareness Day. ©UN Photo/Marie Frechon

International Albinism Awareness Day

Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition which occurs worldwide regardless of ethnicity or gender. It most commonly results in the lack of melanin pigment in the hair, skin and eyes (oculocutaneous albinism), causing vulnerability to sun exposure. This can lead to skin cancer and severe visual impairment. Both parents must carry the gene for it to be passed on to their children, even if they do not themselves have manifestations of the condition.

The prevalence of albinism varies across the world. According to the World Health Organization, estimates vary from 1 in 5,000 to 1 in 15,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Europe and North America, 1 in 20,000 people have the condition according to the NGO Under the Same Sun.

The genetic rarity inherited by persons with albinism makes their condition difficult to understand socially and medically. In some countries, their physical appearance is also the object of erroneous beliefs and myths influenced by superstition that can subject people with albinism to violent physical attacks.

The UN Independent Expert on the rights of people with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, indicated in her latest report to the UN Human Rights Council that over the past eight years, more than 600 attacks – sometimes deadly – on children and adults with albinism were reported in 26 countries.

Ero was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council after calls from civil society organizations to consider persons with albinism as a specific group with particular needs that require special attention. This call prompted the Council to create the mandate of independent expert on albinism in March 2015.

On the occasion of International Albinism Awareness Day, 13 June 2017, Ero urged States, the UN system, civil society organizations, allies and people with albinism themselves to renew their pledge “to combat violence and discrimination against people with albinism and underline the significant positive impact that collective efforts and deeper partnerships can have to this end.”

Here are examples of how you can get involved in standing up for the rights of people with albinism:

Find out more

  • Visit the UN Human Rights Office website to learn more about all human rights for everyone, everywhere, and put the situation of persons with albinism worldwide in context.
  • World renowned singer Salif Keita, Gold Paralympian Kelly Gallagher, model and actress Diandra Forrest and other albinism champions have told us their stories. Read them and find information on the human rights issues of people with albinism on the UN Human Rights Office awareness campaign site.

Get involved

Stand up and share

  • If you wish to share the story of how you have you stood up for the rights of a person with albinism and think others would benefit from hearing your story, please fill out the form on the Stand Up for Someone’s Rights site and we may feature your story on this site.
  • Use the campaign hashtag #Standup4humanrights on social media to show your support. If you use the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram you could be featured in our Wall of Human Rights Champions.

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