After a successful conference on Saturday 14 August, the global humanist community virtually gathered once again on Sunday 15 August for the 2021 Online General Assembly of Humanists International.
Over 80 delegates from across the world attended the event. Among them, many representatives of member organizations, staff and Board members, and Individual Supporters of Humanists International.
During his opening remarks, President of Humanists International and chair of the event, Andrew Copson, said:
“We should have been holding our General Assembly in Nepal this year, hosted by our friends at the Society for Humanism in Nepal. We took the difficult decision to cancel the General Assembly in Nepal in conjunction with our Member there. SOCH Nepal played a significant role in the vaccine rollout, in partnership with the World Health Organization, and other public health organizations. Like in so many places around the world, its humanists we see at the forefront of social welfare and community support programmes.
We must also take a moment to pause and reflect on the continued illegal detention of our dear friend and colleague Mubarak Bala. Mubarak has been detailed arbitrarily and illegally for 474 days. 474 days. Two birthdays. 474 days not spent with his wife and family. Mubarak is the President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria and his continued illegal detention by Nigerian authorities is a stain on the reputation of that country.”
The General Assembly also unanimously voted to approve two new resolutions:
The following three people were awarded the 2021 Distinguished Service to Humanism Award.
Steven Pinker who commented upon receiving his award:
“What an honour! Humanism has never been more important. People are hungering for a coherent source of purpose to help them deal with the challenges of the present and the permanent dilemmas of the human condition. The old supernatural myths cannot satisfy that longing, nor can divisive political sectarianism. Our hope lies in the human capacity for sympathy and reason, and in the institutions that amplify them. I thank Humanists International for this recognition, and extend my appreciation to humanists the world over for the vital work you do.”
Bonya Rafida Ahmed, who commented :
“Thank you so much! This is a great honor. If there’s something COVID-19 has shown the world, it’s that we need humanism – reason, understanding and compassion – more than ever. If we think this ruthless pandemic is bad, we should remember that much worse is ahead in the near future; we cannot solve a massive existential crisis like climate change without reason, scientific understanding and unity among our species. Big thanks to Humanists International for this award, and for standing for the values that can save on this planet.”
Shanti Gurung said:
“I would like to thank Humanists International for awarding me with Distinguished Service to Humanism Award 2021. I believe there are thousands of our friends worldwide who equally deserve this award. I want to dedicated this award to those who have lost their lives and those who are forced to leave their home, and those who are behind the bar just because of different thoughts.
“I would also like to thank SOCH Nepal and Mr. Uttam Niraula for providing a platform to serve and to be recognized as a humanist.”
The Board of Humanists International also decided to award Mubarak Bala with the 2021 Freedom of Thought Award.
Amina Ahmed received the award on behalf of her husband Mubarak, commenting the award with these words:
“On behalf of my husband Mubarak Bala, I really want to thank humanists all over the world for this wonderful honour. This award has really shown that the world still cares for Mubarak, and that Mubarak has not been forgotten. This is to show that humanity is above all regardless of religion and belief. I thank Humanists International for your utmost support and care for Mubarak’s family. We don’t know how to thank you enough, all I can say is thanks a zillion! And I know this is indeed a phase which will come to pass soon. I also want to thank the Humanists Association of Nigeria who has struggled these past months for Mubarak’s release. You have all really shown so much love and care for Mubarak and we really appreciate it.”
The General Assembly voted to welcome 11 new Members and Associates to its global family:
The General Assembly also confirmed the new membership of ETHOS from Slovakia and the Polish Rationalist Association.
In addition to welcoming new Members and Associates, the Assembly oversaw the successful re-election of three nominees to Humanists International’s Board of Directors.
Boris van der Ham was confirmed as Treasurer of the organization for the next three years. Commenting on his re-appointment, Boris said:
“Thank you to my humanist colleagues around the world for re-electing me as Treasurer for a second term. During my first term we have seen a significant professionalization of the financial management of the organisation, as well as sustained annual increase in donations. Over the coming three years we will have an increased focus on institutional donors to help increase our resources, and to expand our sources of income.
“Thank you for electing me, and I look forward to another three years working hard to support and promote humanism around the world.”
Kristin Mile was re-elected as a Board Member. She said on her election:
“I am delighted to have been re-elected to the Board of Humanists International for a second term. It is an honor and a privilege to be given such a serious responsibility by my colleagues in the international humanist community.”
David Pineda commentend on his re-election to the Board as follows:
“It is an honour to have served on the Board for the last five years, and I am delighted to have been called upon to serve another term. Over the course of my time on the Board we have expanded the scope of the growth and development work we do in less developed countries, and this is something which I am very proud of.”
“Humanists International is a vibrant and growing organization, and I am very proud to be asked by our global community to serve on the Board once more.”
During her closing remarks, the Vice-President of Humanists International, Anne-France Ketelaer, said:
“The resolutions we passed affirm our commitment to some of our core humanist values. The resolution on vaccine equitability – guided by the high value we place on global solidarity, scientific reasoning, and the fundamental notion that all humans have an equal right to enjoy the benefits of science – could not be more timely or fitting. Whilst, the blasphemy resolution reaffirms our unwavering commitment to the human rights of free thought, free expression and freedom of belief for everyone, along with the enduring conviction that debate, critical thinking and dissent from dogma are key to promoting freedom, human rights, and tolerance for all.
“Humanists have been at the forefront of social progress in all areas of the world. This is a legacy of which we should be rightly very proud. “
Anne-France also mentioned that the family of Humanists International is looking forward to meeting once again in Glasgow, from 3 to 5 June 2022, for the next year’s General Assembly – the first one in person after more than two years of virtual meetings and conferences.