Following its General Assembly in Manila, Philippines, Andrew Copson has been elected as the new President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU).
Rein Zunderdorp, past president of Humanistisch Verbond (the Dutch Humanist Association) was elected First Vice-President, and Roar Johnsen, Norway, continues as Treasurer.
Andrew Copson has been a member of the IHEU Executive Committee since 2010 and is currently Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association (BHA), where he has worked for the past decade. He has experience from a variety of humanist organisations as a past director of the European Humanist Federation, Conway Hall Ethical Society, past chair of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, and a current Board member of the UK Federation of Atheist, Humanist, and Secular Student Societies. Internationally, he has represented Humanism at the European Commission, the Council of Europe, and the OSCE and is a member of the UK Foreign Office’s Advisory Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
In his time at the BHA Copson has been behind many of the most high-profile campaigns that have been conducted. He was on the committee that organized the internationally acclaimed Atheist Bus Campaign in 2009, and was an organizer of the Protest the Pope coalition and the first speaker at their 25,000 person rally against the state visit to the UK. As well as numerous public policy successes and overseeing a huge growth in membership, he has expanded the BHA into new areas of work, learning from other IHEU members, including increased Humanist pastoral support. He managed the highly successful 2014 World Humanist Congress, and with published books and articles on topics including Humanism and secularism, and ethics and politics more generally, he combines an incisive understanding of Humanism with deft logistical management.
Sonja Eggerickx, immediate past president of IHEU, said:
“Andrew is extremely well-placed to lead the IHEU onward as its president. His journey through the UK national Humanist organisation and into the international movement has been remarkable. Andrew is a superb strategic thinker and a true humanist and I could not be leaving the presidency in more capable hands. I expect big things!”
In an message to all IHEU Member Organizations, Mr Copson said:
“The IHEU is the only global federation of humanist and like-minded organisations that is democratic at every level, with more than six decades of tradition and experience behind it. But I don’t want to be a custodian only. This is a fast-changing, vitally important time for the interests of Humanism. So we must continue to move forward, with more energy and more innovation.
“I want to facilitate deeper interaction between Member Organisations and the IHEU head office, and between Member Organisations themselves. For this we need greater transparency, and to be not just an institution but a mutually supporting global network.
“… I believe we have vital lessons to learn from our national Member Organisations and I believe we can and must transpose many of their successful strategies to the international level.
“Externally, we must continue to build on the Freedom of Thought report and the reputation boost this has given us. I want to continue to grow our presence in international institutions, and enhance our public and media profile — without compromising our reputation for being a balanced, sensible, authoritative voice. And I believe we can find new ways of representing and advocating the values and ideas of Humanism as a positive lifestance for all thinking people in the here and now.”