International Humanist and Ethical Union

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International Humanist and Ethical Union
IHEU logo.jpg
Abbreviation IHEU
Formation 1952
Founded at Amsterdam
Type International non-governmental organisation (NGO)
Headquarters 39 Moreland Street, London EC1V 8BB, United Kingdom
Region served
Andrew Copson
Chief Executive
Carl Blackburn
Andrew Copson, Anne-France Ketelaer, Roar Johnsen, Kato Mukasa, Uttam Niraula, Susan Sackett, Ron Solomon, and Rein Zunderdorp

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 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) presided over the founding Congress of the IHEU. The Board is responsible for the management of the IHEU in regards to the internal policies and bylaws.[3] It consists of elected Board members including the President, Vice-President and the Treasurer in addition to addition members nominated by IHEU member organisations. The current President is Andrew Copson, also the current serving Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association (BHA).[4] The IHEU headquarters is based in London, who share an office with the BHA and the staff is headed by the current Chief Executive of the IHEU, Carl Blackburn.

In 2002, the IHEU General Assembly unanimously adopted the Amsterdam Declaration 2002[5] 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).[6]

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[edit]

All member organisations of the International Humanist and Ethical Union are required by IHEU bylaw 5.1[7] 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[edit]

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.[8][9]

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 [8]

Amsterdam Declaration 2002[edit]

On the 50th anniversary World Humanist congress in 2002 passed unanimously a resolution the "Amsterdam Declaration 2002" an update of the original Amsterdam Declaration [10]

Oxford Declaration 2014[edit]

At the 2014 World Humanist Congress a further resolution, "The Oxford Declaration on Freedom of Thought and Expression" was adopted.[11]


Staff at the IHEU Headquarters[edit]

IHEU has a relatively small staff size and strongly relies on volunteer work. However, it does have some full-time permanent staff and representatives

  • Carl Blackburn — Chief Executive
  • Bob Churchill — Director of Communications
  • Colin Divens — Administrator
  • Elizabeth O’Casey — Director of Advocacy

United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva Delegation[edit]

United Nations, New York Delegation[edit]

  • Margaretha Jones
  • Marjorie Dugan
  • Sylvain Ehrenfeld
  • John Wagner

Council of Europe[edit]

  • David Pollock — Head of Delegation
  • Renate Bauer
  • Michel Grosmann
  • Françoise Olivier-Utard[12]

Current Directory of Member Organisations[edit]

Name Web Address Country
Alliance of Humanists; Atheists and Agnostics - Luxembourg (Home) Luxembourg
American Atheists Inc. (Home) United States
American Ethical Union (Home) United States
American Humanist Association (Main) United States
Andha Shraddha Nirmulan Samiti (Main) India
Asian Rationalist Society Britain (Main) United Kingdom
Asociación Humanista Etica Argentina "Deodoro Roca" (Argentine Ethical Humanist Association) (Home) Argentina
Asociația Secular-Umanistă din România (Romanian Secular Humanist Association) (Home) Romania
Asociatia Umanista Romana (Romanian Humanist Association) (Work) Romania
Association for Secular Humanism (ASH) Malawi
Association Francaise pour l'Information Scientifique (Home) France
Association Humaniste du Quebec (Humanist Association of Quebec) (Home) Canada
Associazione Nazionale Del Libero Pensiero "Giordano Bruno" (Main) Italy
Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan (Main) Pakistan
Atheist Association of Czech Republic (Home) Czech Republic
Atheist Centre (Home) India
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc. (Main) Australia
AWARE GIRLS (Main) Pakistan
Belfast Humanist Group (Main) United Kingdom
British Humanist Association (Home) United Kingdom
Buddhiwadi Samaj (Home) India
Burundi Humanist Charity (Facebook) Burundi
Canadian Humanist Publications (Home) Canada
Capital District Humanist Society (Work) United States
Center for Civil Courage (Main) Croatia
Center for Inquiry (Home) United States
Central London Humanists (Main) United Kingdom
Centre d’Action Laïque (Home) Belgium
Colombia Atheist Organisation - ORCA (Facebook) Colombia
Conway Hall Ethical Society (Home) United Kingdom
Council of Australian Humanist Societies (Home) Australia
Council of Ex Muslims of Morocco (Facebook) Morocco
Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists (Facebook) United Kingdom
Dachverband Freier Weltanschauungs gemainschaften e.V. (Umbrella Organization for Secular Associations) (Home) Germany
Danish Humanist Society (Home) Denmark
De Vrije Gedachte (Home) Netherlands (Home) Belgium
Devon Humanists (Home) United Kingdom
Dorset Humanists (Main) United Kingdom
Erlangen Freethinkers' Federation (Main) Germany
Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA) India
Fondation humaniste du Québec(Quebec Humanist Foundation) (Home) Canada
Free Society Institute (Home) South Africa
Freethought Society (Main) United States
Freidenker Vereinigung der Schweiz (Home) Switzerland
Freidenkerbund Österreichs (Freethinkers Organisation of Austria) (Home) Austria
Guatemalan Secular Humanist Association (Main) Guatemala
Human-Etisk Forbund (Norwegian Humanist Association) (Home) Norway
Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI) (Main) Philippines
Humanist Assembly of Lagos Nigeria
Humanist Association For Leadership Equity and Accountability (Home) Uganda
Humanist Association of Ghana (Home) Ghana
Humanist Association of Ireland Ltd (Home) Ireland
Humanist Association of Northern Ireland (Home) United Kingdom
Humanist Canada (The Humanist Association of Canada) (Work) Canada
Humanist Community of Iran (Main) Iran, Islamic Republic of
Humanist Empowerment of Livelihoods in Uganda (Main) Uganda
Humanist Fellowship of San Diego (Home) United States
Humanist Institute (formerly North American Committee for Humanism) (Home) United States
Humanist Society (Singapore) (Home) Singapore
Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix (Main) United States
Humanist Society of New Zealand (Home) New Zealand
Humanist Society of Scotland (Home) United Kingdom
Humanistas Racionalistas del Perú (Peruvian Rationalist Humanists) (Work) Peru
Humanisterna (Swedish Humanist Association) (Home) Sweden
Humanistic Association Netherlands (Humanistisch Verbond Nederland) (Home) Netherlands
Humanistisch Historisch Centrum (Home) Netherlands
Humanistisch Instituut voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking (HIVOS) (Home) Netherlands
Humanistischer Verband Deutschlands (German Humanist Association) (Home) Germany
Indian Humanist Union (Home) India
Indian Radical Humanist Association India
Indian Rationalist Association (Home) India
Indonesian Atheists (Home) Indonesia
Institute for Humanist Studies (Home) United States
Kasese United Humanist Association (Home) Uganda
Kenyan Humanist Association (KHA) (Main) Kenya
Kerala Yukhtivada Sanghom (Main) India
Leicester Secular Society (Main) United Kingdom
Ligue de l'Enseignement (Education League) (Home) France
Malta Humanist Association (Main) Malta
Manava Vikasa Vedika (Human Development Forum) India
Manavatavadi Vishwa Sansthan (The International School of Humanitarian Thoughts and Practice) (Home) India
Manavbadi Samaj (Society for Humanism Nepal) (SOCH) (Home) Nepal
Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers (MAAF) (Home) United States
Minnesota Atheists (Home) United States
National Secular Society (Home) United Kingdom
Netradana Protsahaka Sangham (Society for Promotion of Eye Donation) India
New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists (Home) New Zealand
Nigerian Humanist Movement Nigeria
North East Humanists (Home) United Kingdom
North London Humanist Group (Home) United Kingdom
Norwegian Humanist Association / Buskerud County (Home) Norway
Norwegian Humanist Association Finnmark County (Main) Norway
Ontario Humanist Society (Main) Canada
Open Community Initiative Nigeria
Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS) (Home) Philippines
Pink Triangle Trust (Home) United Kingdom
Prometheus Books (Home) United States
Quinte Secular Humanist Association (Home) Canada
Rationalist Association of India India
Russian Humanist Society (Home) Russian Federation
Satya Shodak Sabha (Truth Seeker Society) India
Secular Humanist League of Brazil (Home) Brazil
Secular Humanists Of Puerto Rico (Main) Puerto Rico
Secular Policy Institute (Main) United States
Siðmennt - Félag Siðrænna Húmanista á Íslandi (Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association) (Home) Iceland
Social Development Foundation (Home) India
Solidaritatea pentru libertatea de conştiinţă (Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience) (Home) Romania
Spoločnosť Prometheus (Prometheus Society of Slovakia) (Home) Slovakia
Suomen Humanistiliitto (Humanist Association of Finland) (Home) Finland
Sutton Humanist Group (Home) United Kingdom
Tarksheel Society Punjab (Rationalist Society Punjab) (TSP) (Main) India
Uganda Humanist Association (Home) Uganda
Uganda Humanist Schools Trust (Work) United Kingdom
Union Radical-Humaniste Luxembourgeoise Luxembourg
Union Rationaliste (Rationalist Union) (Home) France
Unione Degli Atei e Degli Agnostici Razionalisti (Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics) (Home) Italy
Universiteit voor Humanistiek (Home) Netherlands
UU Humanist Association (Home) United States
Vapaa-ajattelijain liitto ry (the Union of Freethinkers of Finland) (Home) Finland
Viveka Vidyalayam (Home) India
Youth Movement for Freedom of Thought in Haiti Haiti


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]

Policy Agenda[edit]

  • Promoting the human right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief;
  • Promoting the human right to freedom of expression;
  • Promoting the humanist worldview and humanist values; and
  • Promoting democracy, secularism, and peace.

Established Aims[edit]

  1. Successful and sustainable member organisations in every part of the world
  2. Member organisations which are networked together as a co-ordinated global movement
  3. International and regional government policies shaped by the policy agendas
  4. Sufficient reputation, financial and human resources, and administrative effectiveness to achieve goals[14]


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:[15] to bring Humanists together and inspire them
  2. Campaigns:[16] 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.[17]

Chairs and presidents[edit]

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[18]


International Humanist Award[edit]

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

Distinguished Service to Humanism Award[edit]

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

Other Awards[edit]