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The Eighteenth World Humanist Congress was the most diverse humanist congress in the International Humanist and Ethical Union’s six decade history. More than 500 Humanists from 50 countries and six continents met in Oslo for a series of meeting from August August 10 to 15. In addition to the World Humanist Congress from August 12 to 14, IHEU held a two-day leadership training course, four day-long workshops for Humanist professionals and activists, plus its annual General Assembly.

The main congress theme of “Humanism and Peace” was given increased focus and poignancy by the July 22 attacks that killed 77 Norwegians, and damaged the congress venue. But the congress also drew on the proud Norwegian heritage of peace-building, with meetings held at the Nobel Peace Center and at Oslo City Hall, where the annual Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony takes place.

After three days exploring the origins, effects and potential for conflict and peace, the congress issued the Oslo Declaration of Peace. The congress also issued resolutions on the pastoral support of non-religious military personnel and on corruption.

The congress also saw the International Humanist Award presented to the Dutch Member of the European Parliament Sophie in’t Veld. IHEU Awards were also given to P.Z. Myers, Narendra Nayak, David Pollock, and V.B Rawat. For full details on all the IHEU Awards go to: http://www.iheu.org/iheu-awards-2011

Congress speakers included: ex-Muslim writer Taslima Nasrin; UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt; Peter Eigen, founder of the anti-corruption group, Transparency International; Johan Galtung, sociologist and founder of the discipline of Peace and Conflict Studies; Judith Hand, social anthropologist and expert in peace building; and Erik Assadourian, author of State of the World 2010, and Worldwatch Institute senior fellow.

Detailed reports on the congress, as well as many of the presentations heard at the congress, will be available in the next issue of International Humanist News.

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