News / Press Releases

April 23, 2014

Founders to be Knighted to French Legion of Honor

Takoma Park, Maryland — Jean-Baptiste Richardier, Claude Simonnot, and Philippe Chabasse, three of the historic leaders of Handicap International, have been named as knights of France’s Legion of Honor, the highest decoration bestowed in France. The list of individuals to be knighted for 2014 was published on April 20 in the official journal of the French government.

“Although this honor is awarded to each of us individually, it rewards far more than our own individual merits,” said Jean-Baptiste Richardier, the current Executive Director of Handicap International Federation. “It acknowledges and honors Handicap International’s work with people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups which been carried out by every member of our association over the last 32 years. We would like to dedicate this great honor to them, and to the hundreds of thousands of individual donors who continue to place their trust in our ability to successfully carry out our mission.”

In 1982, Jean-Baptiste Richardier and Claude Simonnot, both young doctors working in Cambodian refugee camps on the Thai border, founded Handicap International after witnessing the horrific injuries suffered by Cambodian landmine victims. Two years later they were joined by another French doctor, Philippe Chabasse, and together they lay the foundations for the organization.

For 20 years, Jean-Baptiste Richardier, Claude Simonnot, and Philippe Chabasse jointly managed Handicap International as Director of Communications and Development, Director of Programs, and Director of Political Action and Advocacy, respectively.  Jean-Baptiste Richardier is the current Executive Director of the Handicap International Federation. Philippe Chabasse is a member of the Handicap International Federation Board of Trustees and runs a consultancy firm specializing in corporate social responsibility. Claude Simonnot is a rehabilitation medicine specialist, a member of the Rhône-Alpes regional network of pediatric rehabilitation, and Chairman of STEPS Consulting Social, a consultancy NGO set up by Handicap International in 2003.

About Handicap International

Handicap International is an independent international aid organization working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. Working alongside persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our action and testimony are focused on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions, and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since it was founded in 1982, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, and the winner of the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Prize. Handicap International takes action and campaigns in places where “standing tall” is no easy task.