International Humanist and Ethical Union

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International Humanist and Ethical Union
IHEU logo.jpg
Formation 1952; 67 years ago (1952)
Region served

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is an umbrella organisation of humanist, atheist, rationalist, secular, skeptic, freethought and Ethical Culture organisations worldwide.[1] Founded in Amsterdam in 1952, in 2011 the IHEU consisted of 117 member organizations in 38 countries.[2] Julian Huxley (the first director of UNESCO) presided over the founding Congress of the IHEU.

In 2002, the IHEU General Assembly unanimously adopted the Amsterdam Declaration 2002[3] which represents the official defining statement of World Humanism. The Happy Human is the official symbol of the IHEU. IHEU has Special Consultative Status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).[4]

IHEU holds a World Humanist Congress every three years, hosted by one of its members. The next is to be held in São Paulo, Brazil, in 2017.

Minimum Statement

All member organisations of the International Humanist and Ethical Union are required by IHEU bylaw 5.1[5] 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.


Amsterdam 1952 - IHEU founding congress

Five Humanist organisations, the American Ethical Union, American Humanist Association, British Ethical Union (now the British Humanist Association), Vienna Ethical Society and the Dutch Humanist league hosted the founding congress of the IHEU in Amsterdam 22–27 August.[6][7]

On the last day of the congress five resolutions were passed, which included the fundamental of 'modern, ethical Humanism' - A resolution which would come to be known as the Amsterdam declaration [6]

Amsterdam Declaration 2002

On the 50th anniversary World Humanist congress in 2002 passed unanimously a resolution the "Amsterdam Declaration 2002" an update of the original Amsterdam Declaration [8]

Oxford Declaration 2014

At the 2014 World Humanist Congress a further resolution, "The Oxford Declaration on Freedom of Thought and Expression" was adopted.[9]


The aim of the IHEU is to promote the identity of Humanism, including the name and symbol of Humanism. The IHEU promotes Humanism, defined by the Amsterdam Declaration 2002, by advocating freedom of religion. Goals of the IHEU range from achieving worldwide separation of religion and state to providing assistance in establishing humanist youth organisations around the globe.[1]


IHEYO logo.

Based in London, England, the IHEU is an international NGO with Special Consultative Status with the United Nations, General Consultative Status at the Council of Europe, Observer Status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and maintains operational relations with UNESCO.

Core IHEU activities are:

  1. International conferences:[10] to bring Humanists together and inspire them
  2. Campaigns:[11] to promote and defend human rights and Humanist values
  3. Representation at international and regional bodies: to further Humanist goals
  4. Growth and Development: to support Humanist groups in developing countries
  5. Organisational Development: developing the youth movement, a women’s network, membership and support

IHEU has a wing for people aged 35 and under called the International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organisation (IHEYO).

The IHEU and Amnesty International led the campaign to try to obtain the release of Younus Shaikh.[12]

IHEU chairs and presidents

Previous IHEU President Sonja Eggerickx.
Current IHEU President Andrew Copson.
Years Position Holder(s)
1952-1975 Chairman Jaap van Praag  
1975-1979 Chairman troika Piet Thones Mihailo Marković Howard B. Radest
1979-1985 Bert Schwarz
1985-1986 Svetozar Stojanović
1986-1987 Rob Tielman Paul Kurtz
1987-1990 Levi Fragell
1990-1993 Kari Vigeland
1993-1994 Jane Wynne Willson
1995-1996 Vern Bullough
1996-1998 President  
1998-2003 Levi Fragell
2003-2006 Roy W Brown
2006-2015 Sonja Eggerickx
2015- Andrew Copson[13]

IHEU Awards

International Humanist Award

The International Humanist Award recognises outstanding achievements and contributions to the progress and defence of Humanism.

Distinguished Service to Humanism Award

The Distinguished Service to Humanism Award recognises the contributions of Humanist activists to International Humanism and to organised Humanism.

Other Awards

See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 "About IHEU". IHEU. Retrieved 2007-11-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Humanist movement hits new high in membership". Retrieved 2013-04-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Amsterdam Declaration 2002". IHEU. Retrieved 2013-02-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "List of non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council as of 1 September 2010" (PDF). United Nations. Retrieved 2013-03-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "IHEU's Bylaws". International Humanist and Ethical Union. Retrieved 2008-07-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "1850-1952: The road to the founding congress". IHEU. Archived from the original on 11 August 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Kurtz, Paul (2001). Skepticism and humanism : the new paradigm. New Brunswick, NJ [u.a.]: Transaction Publishers. p. 259. ISBN 0765800519.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Vandebrake, Mark. Freethought resource guide: a directory of information, literature, art, organizations, & internet sites related to secular humanism, skepticism, atheism, & agnosticism. Austin, Texas: CreateSpace. pp. Appendix A. ISBN 9781475020359.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. IHEU, Oxford Declaration on Freedom of Thought and Expression, 12 August 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2014
  10. [1] Archived 12 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  11. "International Humanist and Ethical Union | Campaigns". 2013-08-02. Retrieved 2014-08-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Ethical approach to a humane cause". The Hindu. January 28, 2004.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Andrew Copson elected new President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union". British Humanist Association. Retrieved 12 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Gulalai Ismail wins International Humanist of the Year Award". British Humanist Association. Retrieved 12 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Wole Soyinka wins International Humanist Award". British Humanist Association. Retrieved 12 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 2011-08-23 (2011-08-23). "International Humanist and Ethical Union | IHEU Awards for 2011". Retrieved 2014-08-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links