We are the global representative body of the humanist movement, uniting a diversity of non-religious organisations and individuals.
We want everyone to live a life of dignity in a world where universal human rights are respected and protected, and where states uphold secularism.
We work to build, support and represent the global humanist movement, defending human rights, particularly those of non-religious people, and promoting humanist values world-wide.
Founded in Amsterdam in 1952, our vision is a Humanist world; a world in which human rights are respected and everyone is able to live a life of dignity. We work to build and represent the global Humanist movement that defends human rights and promotes Humanist values world-wide.
Originally five Humanist organisations, the American Ethical Union, American Humanist Association, British Ethical Union (later the British Humanist Association and now Humanists UK), Vienna Ethical Society and the Dutch Humanist league hosted the founding congress of the IHEU in Amsterdam, 22–27 August 1952. On the last day of the congress five resolutions were passed, which included a statement of the fundamentals of “modern, ethical Humanism”, a resolution which would come to be known as the Amsterdam Declaration.
Now registered in New York, USA, the main administrative headquarters are in London, United Kingdom, IHEU is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) with representation on various United Nations committees and other international bodies. We seek to influence international policy through representation and information, to build the humanist network, and let the world know about the worldview of Humanism.
You can read more about our history in International Humanist and Ethical Union 1952-2002: past, present and future by Babu Gogineni and Bert Gasenbeek.
Our strategy was developed by the Board to deliver on the four following organisational aims:
1. We will have successful and sustainable member organisations in every part of the world
We will provide funding, training, intellectual resources and other support to stimulate, encourage and foster new and emerging humanist and other relevant organisations. We will concentrate our efforts in priority regions, but also operate opportunistically to support organisations as and where they arise.
2. We will create a coordinated global movement by supporting and developing our network
We will bring together organisations of all non-theistic traditions, and the individuals engaged in the work of those organisations, to share experiences and good practice. We will support our member organisations to learn from each other, take joint action and become more involved in our work. We will support humanists at risk around the world, and encourage others to do so.
3. We will influence and shape international and regional government policies
We will maintain delegations at priority international institutions to represent the global movement and advance our policies. We will work in cooperation with other NGOs and mobilise our member organisations to lobby their governments in support of initiatives that advance our policies.
4. We will have sufficient reputation, resources, and effectiveness to achieve our objectives
We will expand our staff and volunteer team. We will secure funding from multiple sources, including individual donors, member organisations, national and regional governments and grant-making bodies.
You can read more in our Strategy document.
Management and Governance
The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is a not-for-profit organisation registered in New York, USA (501(c)3) and operating as a foreign company in the United Kingdom (FC020642).
The organisation is governed by a Board, elected from among our members and supporters every year at our General Assembly (our equivalent to an AGM). The GA is usually held in summer (June – August), and moves between different countries each year. The GA is usually organized in coordination with a national IHEU Member Organization in that country, alongside a conference which is hosted by that Member Organization.