Humanists and Atheists Hold World Congress in Oslo; Terrorist attacks add new significance to topic of peace

  • post Type / Conferences
  • Date / 3 August 2011

Despite damage from the recent bombing in Norway, secular activists from more than 50 countries will meet in Oslo, August 12 to 14, to discuss how to build a more peaceful world. The International Humanist and Ethical Union’s (IHEU) Eighteenth World Congress, on the theme of “Humanism and Peace” (www.human.no/oslo2011), will meet at the Oslo Congress Center, damaged by the July 22 bombing, with events also at the home of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.

The theme, venue and time of the World Humanist Congress were chosen four years ago, but the July 22 attacks have given them a new significance, say conference organizers. “Now that the terrorist attack has brought this issue to our own doorstep, we want to show the world that we can respond to violence by renewing our commitment to peace,” said Roar Johnsen, vice president of IHEU (www.IHEU.org) and former president of the Norwegian Humanist Association. “We are heart-broken by the murder of so many Norwegians. But we will share our experiences of conflict and peace, and we hope we will also learn from the experiences of humanists coming from around the world.”

The bomb blast in Oslo was close enough to blow out windows at the congress venue. Many of the 400 people registered for the congress sent messages of sympathy and determination to participate in the Congress. Åse Kleveland, president of the Norwegian Humanist Association, will ask the delegates to join her in one minute of silence for the terror victims at the opening of the Congress.

Congress participants will receive a special invitation to Oslo City Hall, the site of the annual Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony.

Speakers at the congress include:

Taslima Nasrin, ex-Muslim writer forced out of two countries by death threats

Sophie in‘t Veld, MEP, Chair, European Parliament Platform for Secularism in Politics

Johan Galtung, sociologist and founder of the discipline of Peace and Conflict Studies

Judith Hand, social anthropologist and expert in peace building

Erik Assadourian, author of State of the World 2010, and Worldwatch Institute senior fellow

Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Peter Eigen, founder of the anti-corruption group, Transparency International

Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, author of Good without God

PZ Myers, professor of biology, renowned atheist blogger

To register for the congress visit: www.human.no/oslo2011

About the International Humanist and Ethical Union (www.IHEU.org):

Founded in 1952, IHEU is a federation of more than 100 humanist and atheist groups from 40 countries. It has consultative status at the United Nations, UNESCO, Council of Europe and African Union.

For more information: contact Matt Cherry at [email protected], tel. +1 518 632 1040

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