International Humanist and Ethical Union

International Humanist and Ethical Union

:"This article discusses the non-theistic life stance of a major Humanist organisation."::"For the non-theistic humanistic life stance in a broader sense, please see Humanism (life stance)."::"For secular humanism in general, please see Secular humanism."::"For other uses of the term "humanism", please see Humanism."International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the sole world umbrella organisation [cite web |url= |title= About IHEU|accessdate=2007-11-12 |publisher= IHEU ] embracing Humanist, atheist, rationalist, secular, skeptic, Ethical Culture, freethought and similar organisations world-wide. It was founded in Amsterdam in 1952. The IHEU represents the views of over three million Humanists organized in over 100 national organizations in 40 countries. [] [] The majority of these people are in the Third World. Julian Huxley (the first director of UNESCO), presided over the founding Congress of the IHEU.

The IHEU promotes the teaching of comparative religion, and encourages interreligious dialogue.

The IHEU's vision is one of a Humanist world; a world in which the human rights of minorities are respected and everyone is able to live a life of dignity. The mission of IHEU is to build and represent the global Humanist movement that defends human rights and promotes Humanist values world-wide. IHEU sponsors the triennial [ World Humanist Congress] and publishes [ International Humanist News] .

In 2002 the IHEU General Assembly unanimously adopted the Amsterdam Declaration 2002 [cite web |url=|title= Amsterdam Declaration 2002|accessdate=2007-11-12 |publisher= IHEU ] which represents the official defining statement of World Humanism. The Happy Human is the official symbol of IHEU.

Minimum Statement

All member organisations of the International Humanist and Ethical Union are required by IHEU bylaw 5.1 [cite web |url= |title=IHEU's Bylaws |accessdate=2008-07-05 |publisher=International Humanist and Ethical Union] to accept the IHEU Minimum Statement on Humanism:

Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which 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 ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.

Apart from the need to ensure that member organisations are bona fide Humanist (or like-minded) organisations, Humanism rejects dogma, and imposes no creed upon its adherents [] .

Humanist identity

To promote and unify Humanist identity, prominent members of the IHEU have endorsed the following statements on Humanist identityref|Blackham:

#All Humanists, nationally and internationally, should always use the one word Humanism as the name of Humanism: no added adjective, and the initial letter capital;
#All Humanists, nationally and internationally, should use a clear, recognisable and uniform symbol on their publications and elsewhere: our Humanist symbol the Happy Human
#All Humanists, nationally and internationally, should seek to establish recognition of the fact that Humanism is a life stance.

Capitalization of "Humanist" is the normal usage within IHEU, and is recommended usage for member organisations, though some member organisations do not follow the IHEU recommendation. For example, the Council for Secular Humanism continues to use a lowercase "h", and the adjective "secular".

Strategic aims

The long term strategic aims of IHEU are:

* To promote Humanism as a non-theistic life stance throughout the world.
* To represent Humanism within the international community and organisations.
* To defend human rights and the rights of Humanists.
* To develop organised Humanism in every part of the world.
* To build a strong and effective global organisation.


IHEU will:

* promote the identity of Humanism including the name and symbol of Humanism
* promote the Amsterdam Declaration 2002 on Humanism
* promote Freedom of religion "and" belief
* focus on achieving separation of religion and state throughout the world
* focus on activities that can only be undertaken by a global organisation
* work closely with [ many member organisations]
* support members in their [ campaigns] and activities
* bring members together at [ conferences] and in regional groups
* help establish the [ International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organisation] as the world Humanist youth organisation
* use strategic alliances to pursue its aims


Based in London, IHEU is an international NGO with Special Consultative Status with the United Nations, General Consultative Status at UNICEF and the Council of Europe, and maintains operational relations with UNESCO.

IHEU also has offices in New York City at 777 UN Plaza, which also houses the [ IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics] .

Core IHEU activities are:

# International [ conferences] : to bring Humanists together and inspire them
# [ Campaigns] : to promote and defend human rights and Humanist values
# Representation at international and regional bodies: to further Humanist goals
# Growth and Development: to support Humanist groups in developing countries
# Organisational Development: developing the youth movement, a women’s network, membership and support

The IHEU endorses Darwin Day, HumanLight and Human Rights Day as official days of Humanist celebration.

IHEU Chairmen and Presidents


*Jaap van Praag (1952-1975).
*Mihailo Marković, Howard Radest and Piet Thones (the first Troika, 1975)The Troika system was maintained for 21 years, until 1996. Those who served as Co-Chairmen were:

*Piet Thones (1975-1979)
*Mihailo Marković (1975-1985)
*Howard B. Radest (1975-1986)
*Bert Schwarz (1979-1986)
*Svetozar Stojanović (1985-1987)
*Rob Tielman (1986-1996)
*Paul Kurtz (1986-1994)
*Levi Fragell (1987-1990)
*Kari Vigeland (1990-1993)
*Jane Wynne Willson (1993-1996)
*Vern Bullough (1995-1996)


*Rob Tielman (1996-1998)
*Levi Fragell (1998–2003)
*Roy Brown (2003-2006) and is currently Chair of IHEU’s Committee for Growth and Development
*Sonja Eggerickx (2006-current)

IHEU Awards

International Humanist Award

*1970: Barry Commoner (USA), environmentalist professor
*1974: Harold John Blackham (UK), founding member IHEU, IHEU secretary (1952-1966)
*1978: V M Tarkunde (India), a former judge of the Bombay court
*1982: Kurt Partzsch (Germany), a former Minister for Social Affairs
*1986: Arnold Clausse (Belgium), a professor emeritus of education
*1986: The Atheist Centre (India)
*1988: Andrei Sakharov (USSR), atom scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace
*1990: Alexander Dubcek (Czechoslovakia), activist
*1992: Pieter Admiraal (Netherlands), a Dutch anaesthetist, and euthanasia advocate
*1999: Professor Paul Kurtz (USA), a distinguished Humanist
*2002: Amartya Sen (India), Master of Trinity College (Cambridge), and winner of the 1998 The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel
*2005: Jean-Claude Pecker (France), a distinguished scientist

Distinguished Service to Humanism Award

*1998: Corliss Lamont; Indumati Parikh; Mathilde Krim
*1990: Jean Jacques Amy
*1992: Indumati Parikh; Vern Bullough; Nettie Klein {also volunteer IHEU secretary general (1982-1996)
*1996: Jim Herrick; James Dilloway
*1999: Abe Solomon; Paul Postma
*2002: Phil Ward
*2005: Barbara Smoker; Marius Dées de Stério
*2007: Keith Porteous Wood
*2008: Roy Brown

Other Awards

*1978: Special Award for Service to World Humanism: Harold John Blackham; Jaap van Praag; Sidney Scheuer {also IHEU treasurer (1952-1987)}
*1988: Humanist Laureate Award: Betty Friedan; Herbert Hauptman; Steve Allen
*1988: Humanist of the Year Award: Henry Morgenthaler
*1992: Distinguished Human Rights Award: Elena Bonner
*1996: Humanist Awards: Shulamit Aloni; Taslima Nasrin; Xiao Xuehui

International Law

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights endorses international human rights for Freedom of Religion "and" Belief.

In international law the freedom of religion and belief is also protected by "Article 18" of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This protection extends to those professing belief in no religion which includes agnostic, atheist, Humanist, andrationalist.

Also relevant are the "Convention on the Rights of the Child" (CROC), the "Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief" (Religion Declaration) and the "International Labour Organisation Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention 1958".

Thus, in countries where these international laws apply, the question of whether or not Humanism is a religion is no longer so relevant, as it is clearly a belief (or "life stance", as preferred by the IHEU) and Humanist rights are now protected by the same international laws that protect freedom of religion, or other non-theistic beliefs. Note, however, that the relevant international laws currently have no force in U.S. domestic law.


* [ Celebrate Darwin Day!] Official endorsement from IHEU
* [ Human Rights Day] Official endorsement from IHEU
* [ HumanLight Celebration] Official endorsement from IHEU
* [ Human Rights Brief No. 3] Assessment of international law pertaining to freedom of religion and belief from Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
* [ Profile of Levi Fragell] former president of the IHEU, who encouraged the teaching of comparative religion
* [ IHEU listing of all member organisations]
* [ Humanism With A Capital H] by Harvey Lebrun of the American Humanist Association
* [ Humanism is Eight Letters, No More] Endorsed by Harold John Blackham, Levi Fragell, Corliss Lamont, Harry Stopes-Roe and Rob Tielman of the IHEU
* [ IHEU Officials]
* [ IHEU Presidents]
* [ IHEU Awards]


External links

* [ The IHEU web site]

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