Annual Report 2020: Humanism in times of crisis

  • post Type / Humanists International News
  • Date / 23 June 2021

Humanists International has published its 2020 Annual Report, in the wake of a year marked by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the highlights are:

  • A 7.3% increase in income compared to 2019;
  • Over £87,000 ($120,000 USD) given out in growth and development grants;
  • 24 COVID-19 Small Relief Grants paid out directly to humanists in developing countries;
  • We have hired the world’s only Humanists at Risk Coordinator, and provided support to 72 individual humanists, including 21 emergency grant payments.

As expected, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have dominated the operations of Humanists International. The Board moved quickly in 2020 to approve a new program of small direct-relief grants to be paid to individual humanist activists in developing countries, to assist them to provide food, medical and sanitary supplies to their community.

In April 2020, we received news that Mubarak Bala, the President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was detained. As of 23 June 2021, he remains detained without charge in an undisclosed location in northern Nigeria. We have been coordinating a public campaign for his release, as well as private diplomatic efforts. You can read more at: www.freemubarakbala.org/

Sadly, as a result of the pandemic, the 20th World Humanist Congress in Miami, USA, was cancelled. In October 2020, Humanists International held its first ever online General Assembly. The feedback from the event was very positive, and there were no significant technical difficulties.

Additionally, it was decided in February 2021 that the planned 2021 General Assembly could not go ahead in Kathmandu as planned, and therefore this year’s GA will also be held online. Everyone at Humanists International hopes to see as many people as possible at the next in-person GA in Glasgow, UK, in June 2022.

Highlights from the Report


Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International

Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International, commented:

“I am proud of the way that Humanists International has been able to assist our Members and Associates, as well as the individual activists within our global community at such a time. It’s thanks to the broad shoulders of our international movement that we are able to distribute tens of thousands in development grants every year. In addition to this, we moved quickly last year to approve a new program to provide small grants directly to individual humanists in developing countries with the minimal possible bureaucracy.


Gary McLelland, Chief Executive of Humanists International, commented:

Gary McLelland, CEO of Humanists International

“In 2020 Emma Wadsworth-Jones joined the staff team as our new full-time Humanists at Risk coordinator. Emma brings a wealth of experience having more than seven years’ experience in casework and campaigning across the world. Since joining the team Emma has developed a range of new policies to focus and guide the work we do, and also developed a framework for distributing emergency grants to humanists at risk. We also welcomed Lillie Ashworth to the team as our new Advocacy Officer, working alongside Dr. Elizabeth O’Casey, our Director of Advocacy. Lillie will focus on the UN Human Rights Council, the Council of Europe (CoE) and the OSCE, and especially finding new ways to engage our Members and Associates in the work that we do.

“The whole team of staff and volunteers has worked harder than ever this year. Despite the significant challenges of the pandemic, we’ve managed to deliver most of our operational objectives, and keep the management of the organization on course.

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