The International Humanist and Ethical Union was founded in 1952 in Amsterdam and is the only umbrella organisation of Humanist, rationalist, secularist, ethical culture, atheist and agnostic groups around the world.
As a federation of national and regional Humanist groups, IHEU co-ordinates activities of its Member Organisations, fosters the growth of new Humanist groups, and represents the interests of Humanists as a recognized NGO at the UN (New York, Geneva and Vienna), UNICEF (New York), UNESCO (Paris) and the Council of Europe.
1996 The Minimum Statement now reads:
'Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance that affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human and other natural values in a spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.'
The 50th anniversary World Humanist Congress in 2002 in the Netherlands unanimously passed a resolution updating the 1952 Amsterdam Declaration: "The Amsterdam Declaration 2002". Following the Congress, this updated declaration was adopted unanimously by the IHEU General Assembly, and thus became the official defining statement of World Humanism.
The (7) fundamentals of modern Humanism are as follows:
Humanism is ethical.
Humanism is rational.
Humanism supports democracy and human rights.
Humanism insists that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility.
Humanism is a response to the widespread demand for an alternative to dogmatic religion.
Humanism values artistic creativity and imagination.
Humanism is a lifestance aiming at the maximum possible fulfilment through the cultivation of ethical and creative living.
Principles and objectives of the IHEU
31 Dec 1985
(Internal policy statement to be used by IHEU's representatives with the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe)
Humanism takes human beings as the only starting point for the development of ethical standards and values. It is a life stance which is un-dogmatic and non-theistic.
Humanism views human beings, and consequently humankind, as being capable of shaping their own destiny. Humanism is therefore committed to enabling each person to achieve the most complete realisation of her or his potential for self-determination through the fundamental capacities of reason, feeling and judgement.
Although humanism regards human beings as individually distinct, it considers them to be equal members of society with regard to social rights and duties. Hence, humanism defends the rights of individuals while encouraging their responsibility for their own well-being as well as that of others.
Humanism is non-authoritarian in spirit and is sceptical of absolutism. Hence humanists are committed to an open, democratic society. In particular, they affirm that human beings are born to be and should remain free. This means that they:
* Should be treated as equals without reference to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, poverty, birth, or other status;
* Should be free of exploitation whether individual collective, social, political or economic;
* Need social relations to help develop compassion, socio-economic solidarity and a sense of responsibility;
* Are required to understand and respect human rights and the freedom of others;
* Are entitled to an education which helps develop capacities for reason, feeling and judgement;
* Are obliged to preserve the environment from abuse or destruction in order to leave a healthful world to future generations;
* Should be accorded civil liberties, including freedom of conscience, the right of dissent from prevailing social and political policies, freedom of speech, assembly and press, and freedom to express alternative religious, political, moral, scientific and philosophical points of view;
* Have a duty to observe such laws that are or have been democratically established as well as to participate in the process of changing inadequate laws and rules through democratic procedures, employing civil disobedience as a last resort.
Humanists affirm the following social objectives which issue from the principles enumerated above:
1. The right of every person to food, shelter and clothing. To make this possible, humanists advocate humane methods to control population growth such as family planning on a voluntary basis, and a just sharing of world resources.
2. The right of every person to be secure in her or his physical being. Hence, humanists tend to support the abolition of warfare and death penalties.
3. The right of every person to an education which is free from social privilege.
4. The abolition of slavery in all its forms: the sale of human beings: cruel treatment, torture and terrorism.
5. The complete separation of Church and State.
6. Equality with regard to socio-economic status.
7. The right of every person to self-determination with regard to sexual relations, sexual orientation, abortion or euthanasia. Humanists advocate access to birth control equipment and to adequate help for those who are suffering and wish to terminate their lives.
8. The right of every person to privacy. Humanists support limits on governmental, institutional and commercial access to personal information. They advocate freedom from arbitrary police intrusion and oppose increasing tendencies toward the collection of confidential data by public, semi-public and private institutions. They also defend the right of every person to information pertaining to her or his own person.
9. The right of every person to work that she or he considers to be meaningful. Humanists support programmes that encourage participation in the political and economic life of the community while at the same time defending the right to refuse to participate on grounds of conscientious objection.
10. The responsibility of persons, industry and government for protecting the environment by insuring the safe disposal or recycling of waste, including nuclear and chemical waste. Humanists also advocate programmes which protect living beings from environmental dangers and help insure the safe survival of life on earth.
11. The right of every person to free access to information, including news, intellectual and scientific discoveries as well as alternative political viewpoints. Humanists affirm the free flow of information as a vehicle for limiting the potential abuse of scientific discovery by political, commercial and military agencies.
May 3, 2006
The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) met in New York April 20 - 24. It is a global umbrella organization for more than 100 humanist organizations from 40 countries.
The IHEU's annual General Assembly saw the election of a new president, Sonja Eggerickx of Belgium, who is coordinator of the IHEU's Women's Network.
The new IHEU Executive Committee is now composed of:
Sonja Eggerickx (Belgium) – President
Larry Jones (USA) - First Vice President
Rob Buitenweg (The Netherlands) - Vice President
Jack Jeffery, CBE (UK) - Vice President
Roar Johnsen (Norway) - Vice President
Roger Lepeix (France) - Treasurer
5th World Congress Boston, 1970 (for example)
'To seek a humane world'. This theme was chosen because it was felt that the decade of the 1970s would be dominated by the urgent problems of pollution, waste of resources, ecology, nuclear weapons, and the survival of mankind…need to respond by devising a value system compatible with survival in such a changing world.
American environmentalist Barry Commoner, who received the First International Humanist Award,
linguist and activist Noam Chomsky and
Senator Walter Mondale.
Campaigns are listed on Web site - for separation of religion and state and for abolition of blasphemy laws, Dalit rights, UN Human Rights Council, prisoners of conscience, etc.
IHEU has acquired Special Consultative NGO status at the UN, and is recognized by the Council of Europe as one among forty NGO's able to lodge collective complaints as regards violation of the European Social Charter.
Dialogues organized with Catholics, marxists, Muslims, …
Quarterly publication: International Humanist News
The voice of IHEU
Over the years IHEU has issued more than a hundred public statements: congress resolutions, declarations of the Board or Executive Committee, etc.
1957 Every sort of discrimination caused by racial prejudices in the fields of economics, politics, and society should be abolished ...
1962 humanist tradition of toleration
Freedom from hunger:
1968 extend our sympathy and solidarity to the student movement striving for a more equitable society
1970 Population Control, Family Planning and Abortion: ['The IHEU ... makes un urgent appeal to the Catholic Church to ... stop opposing effective family planning and the liberalization of abortion legislation]
Calls upon the US Government to cease its appalling destruction of life and liberty in South-East Asia and to withdraw its forces without delay ...
1974 Declare our support on ethical grounds for beneficient voluntary euthanasia
1982 Homosexuality: 'Freedom to shape one's own existence, also with regard to sexuality, is one of the fundamental human rights
1986 Nuclear weapons: 'We urge: 1) the immediate stopping of all nuclear arms testing; 2) the immediate starting of negotiations aiming at the reduction and eventual total nuclear disarmament, and at the prevention of future re-armament.'
1987 'IHEU requests the governments of the Islamic world to tackle the danger of intolerance toward other beliefs and life stances, and to stop violations of human rights.'
1989 Demonstrations in China: '...urges that the government of the People's Republic of China recognize the rights of its citizens to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.'
1993 Xenophobia, Discrimination, Racism and especially 'Ethnic Cleansing':
2000 Protest against blasphemy laws: 'We call for a strict separation of state from religion, and call on all countries, particularly Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, to bring their domestic legislation in line with universal standards, freedom of religion and belief [...]'
In January 2006 alone the http://www.iheu.org/ website had 70,120 visitors.