The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and the European Humanist Federation (EHF) held their respective General Assemblies in Valetta (Malta) this weekend, hosted by the Malta Humanist Association.
Over 100 delegates from all over Europe joined the EHF’s General Assembly on 20 May. The meeting focused on the achievements of the organization in the past year (see the EHF Annual Report here). But it also recalled that sadly, the last year was also the one of terrible attacks on Europe’s very values and way of life, of tremendous challenges for the continent, of rising populism thriving on these challenges and of growing religious extremism.
Pierre Galand, President of the EHF, said:
Humanist values of freedom, equality and solidarity are more necessary than ever. Humanist actions throughout Europe strive to defend and promote these values: debating and educating to broaden minds, campaigning to denounce injustice and to defend people’s rights, standing by their side for the most important moments of their lives and showing solidarity with the most vulnerable ones.
The second part of the day was dedicated to a common brainstorming on key issues relevant to both organisations: sexual and reproductive health and rights, rising populism and authoritarianism in Europe, the End Blasphemy Laws Campaign, and strategy for the near-future.
For the General Assembly of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), over 100 representatives from 24 countries came together from as far away as Nepal, Uganda, Ghana, the United States, and Russia. IHEU has expanded significantly in recent years, and discussion covered the continued growth of the organization in the years ahead. IHEU’s work at the UN Human Rights Council was applauded, and the upcoming evolution of the IHEU Freedom of Thought Report into a dynamic, permanently available online resource was announced.
Andrew Copson, President of the IHEU, said:
Internationally we’ve been able to talk about the growth of our movement, but also the real terrors and violence befalling many of our humanist allies. In parts of South Asia, in particular Bangladesh this past few years, there is a real upturn in fatal violence against humanists and anyone who dares to stand up to religious fundamentalism. We held a special session on the Bangladesh blogger murders this weekend and we are committed to continuing to work on this issue, to draw international attention, to call for justice, and to support individuals at risk.
The public event at the heart of the weekend was the joint IHEU-EHF conference on Migration and Integration organized by the Malta Humanist Association. Invited speakers were Dr. Helena Dalli, Maltese Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, Dr. Neil Falzon, Director of the Aditus Foundation and Daniel Trilling, Editor of the New Humanist.
In a country as strategic as Malta when it comes to migration, conference participants shared their conviction that refugees and migrants are first and foremost human beings who hold human rights and should be treated as such. They further recalled the obligations of the EU and its Member States, to respect the human rights of all human beings, including refugees and migrants.
Finally, they called on the European Union and the European Council in particular to make a radical shift in its approach to the “refugees crisis” and to find the way back to its values instead of shamingly trading people against money via its deal with Turkey, a country with a poor human rights record.
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Download the EHF annual report here.
Download the IHEU annual report here.