2020 General Assembly

16 October 2020

  • Event Type / Conference
  • Date / 16 October 20 - 16 October 20

2020 World Humanist Congress is Cancelled

Governments around the world have introduced a policy of ‘distancing’ to reduce the risk of infection. It is right that we must remain physically distanced from each other, but at the same time it is vital that we use this opportunity to strengthen the bonds of human solidarity that unite us, and that we move closer together.

More than ever, we need each other. We need humanism.

This year, in order to keep each other safe, and not endanger the lives of others, we cannot meet as planned in Miami. The 2020 World Humanist Congress will not be taking place. This news will not surprise you, but we are all sad to have to confirm it. You can find a link to information about requesting a refund of your Congress fee here.

On Saturday, August 8th, the American Humanist Association will host a day-long virtual conference, Distant but Together: A Virtual Celebration of Humanism. The free event will bring together terrific humanist speakers who will explore the values and principles that underpin our community. To register and get more information, visit conference.americanhumanist.org.

Alternative General Assembly arrangements

The General Assembly will be held at the large meeting room at the Humanists International offices in London on Friday 16th October 2020 at 12noon. This will be a basic, business-only, General Assembly with the minimum number of items to allow for the business to be conducted quickly and efficiently.

We are being open with our Members and Associates about the need to limit in-person participation in the General Assembly to a maximum of 5 voting delegates (from large organisations in Europe, to minimize the need for travel). These 5 participants have agreed to act as a Proxy for all other members, meaning that they will not attend in-person themselves. Other Members and Associates can engage with the papers, proposals and election candidates electronically in advance of the meeting. This will mean that Associates will not be able to participate in the General Assembly formally, since they are not able to appoint proxies.

Time-line for the 2020 General Assembly

UPDATED: 27 July 2020

  • 1 June – Nominations for Board positions opened
  • 8 July – General Assembly official announcement
  • 8 July – Draft General Assembly papers published (for feedback)
  • 6 September – Deadline for Board nominations
  • 6 September – Deadline for motions and amendments from Members and Associates
  • 14 September – Motivational statements and video messages from Board candidates published
  • 14 September – Final General Assembly papers published
  • 16 October – General Assembly


Please submit your Board nomination papers as soon as possible, but before 6th September 2020 to ga@humanists.international:

Nominations to the Board
Download the form:
Humanists International Board nomination form 2020
Young Humanists International Board nomination form 2020

Proxy nomination form
Available soon after 6th September 2020.

More details and background on the alternative General Assembly plans

On 21 May 2020, it was announced that the 2020 World Humanist Congress is cancelled. The cancellation of the Congress also means that we will need to organise another General Assembly, as we are required to hold one every year by law.

Some of the main considerations for an alternative General Assembly are:

  1. It should be after the summer, when (hopefully) the most dangerous peak of the virus is over
  2. It should comply with required social distancing measures
  3. It should allow for Members and Associates to engage meaningfully, either in advance or during the General Assembly
  4. A ‘live’ event online is likely to be inaccessible to people without a fast reliable broadband internet connection, and appropriate computer equipment

Member participants and proxies

The 5 participants selected to attend the General Assembly in-person are:
Anton Van Dyck, DeMens.nu
Christa Compas, Dutch Humanist League
Fraser Sutherland, Humanist Society Scotland
Richy Thompson, Humanists UK
Tom Hedalen, Norwegian Humanist Association

These five representatives were asked to attend based on two reasons: 1) they are all close to London, and can travel there without much difficulty, and 2) they work with large organisations who are able to support their travel costs and assist with administration. This is obviously not the ideal situation, but we are doing what we think is best given the circumstances. Proxy nomination forms will include a list of the Board candidates which you can instruct your representative to vote for. Members will be instructed how to nominate their proxy shortly after 6th September 2020.


There will be three positions available for election: Vice-President, and two Board members.

In order to allow for scrutiny and debate, the motivational statements and a short pre-recorded video clip of each candidate (up to 3 minutes long) will be made available on-line in advance of the elections.

Ballots for the election will be unable to be cast in-person, so instead they will be included in the proxy nomination form and collected electronically in advance of the General Assembly.

Scrutiny of activities

The board and staff understand the need to ensure effective and transparent scrutiny of the activities of the organisation. To ensure this, ‘draft’ papers will be published in advance of the final papers (this is not usual practice). The CEO and President may also provide Members and Associates the opportunity to engage in a discussion about the changes through a video conference, if it is felt necessary.

Online video participation

Given the unreliability of internet connections around the world, on-line participation in the General Assembly will not be possible. However, to aid with transparency and accountability, the General Assembly will be, in part or in full, streamed online so that Members and Associates can watch.

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