Death of a defiant humanist, Stéphane Hessel (1917-2013)

  • post Type / General news
  • Date / 28 February 2013

Resistance fighter, co-author of the Declaration of Human Rights, anti-colonial activist and pioneer of the United Nations, Stéphane Hessel, has died aged 95. His legacy will live on for a very long time.

Stéphane Hessel shakes hands with Alain Touraine at a Centre d’Action Laïque conference "Critical Secularism", 22 September, 2012

Stéphane Hessel survived torture and concentration camps, and despite the tragic events of his life, he waged a constant battle against hate. He campaigned for the ideals of liberté, égalité, fraternité, of social justice. And he bore witness to a history of resistance, as for example when he spoke recently to the youth at Territoires de la Mémoire, a campaign resisting contemporary manifestations of the extreme right in Europe.

Stéphane Hessel claimed and embodied "global citizenship" and at 95 years old he never resigned from his life's task: he struggled for everything from human rights to the environment, development aid, and for equity in the distribution of wealth. Hessel was truly on the right side of history, campaigning for peace and coexistence everywhere.

He was a clear and passionate advocate for the humanist message, an internationalist who was one of the pioneers of the UN. A pro-European and anti-colonialist, Stéphane Hessel has continued to denounce injustice as a tireless advocate for the disadvantaged, the socially undocumented, the poorly housed, and anyone deprived of their legitimate rights.

In recent years Hessel's 2010 manifesto Indignez-vous! (Time for Outrage!) championed "indignation" as the driving force of resistance; it is considered a major inspiration of the Indignados movement and has been linked to the Occupy protests.

It is for all these reasons and many others that the Centre d’Action Laïque and humanists internationally pay tribute to this exemplar of moral defiance.

This tribute is based on an original piece by the Centre d’Action Laïque, derived from the French with permission.  Also see the obituary from the BBC.

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