The European Humanist Federation (EFH) joins in the celebration of #HumanRightsDay, observed worldwide on every 10 December, anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.
For the EFH, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights constitutes a moral and political framework as well as a source of inspiration for our actions, as do its basic values: freedom, equality, solidarity and human dignity. We share the ultimate goal of “the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want” proclaimed in the Preamble.
Whereas all rights are linked and should be read together, several of them are of particular importance to the EHF: equality before the law; non-discrimination; freedom of opinion and expression; the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including “the freedom to change [one’s] religion or belief”.
Tremendous progress has been achieved since the adoption of the Declaration. However, in the past years, we have witnessed a worrying trend worldwide and across Europe of a radical contestation of human rights. Traditionalist faith-based organisations challenge the very philosophy of human rights, based on the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and that they are “endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
These ultra-conservative movements try to prevent progress towards the full realisation of human rights for all, and to curtail them wherever possible. However, their action may be deceptive as they parade under the guise of universal principles, such as the defence of human dignity and life. It is thus of the utmost importance to identify them and lay bare their real aims.
The EHF insists that only secular institutions and the respect of the rule of law can guarantee everyone the full exercise of their rights.