In 1952, at the first World Humanist Congress, the founders of Humanists International agreed on a statement of the fundamental principles of modern Humanism. They called it “The Amsterdam Declaration”.
The Amsterdam Declaration of 1952 was a child of its time. For example, it was set in the world of great power politics and the Cold War, and it asserted that “humanists have confidence that the present crisis can be surmounted”. As befits the nature of Humanism — friendly to evolution, anathema to dogma — the statement was updated in 2002 and most recently in 2022, to reflect the modern realities of the times.
In 2002, at the 50th anniversary World Humanist Congress in the Netherlands, Members of the the International Humanist and Ethical Union (as the organization was then called) agreed upon the Amsterdam Declaration 2002. It became the official defining statement of World Humanism until 2022.
In 2022, at the 70th anniversary World Humanist Congress in Glasgow, Members and Associates of Humanists International once again reviewed and democratically agreed upon an update to the statement; The Amsterdam Declaration 2022. This new statement now serves as our definitive guiding principles.
Humanist beliefs and values are as old as civilization and have a history in most societies around the world. Modern humanism is the culmination of these long traditions of reasoning about meaning and ethics, the source of inspiration for many of the world’s great thinkers, artists, and humanitarians, and is interwoven with the rise of modern science. As a global humanist movement, we seek to make all people aware of these essentials of the humanist worldview:
1. Humanists strive to be ethical
- We accept that morality is inherent to the human condition, grounded in the ability of living things to suffer and flourish, motivated by the benefits of helping and not harming, enabled by reason and compassion, and needing no source outside of humanity.
- We affirm the worth and dignity of the individual and the right of every human to the greatest possible freedom and fullest possible development compatible with the rights of others. To these ends we support peace, democracy, the rule of law, and universal legal human rights.
- We reject all forms of racism and prejudice and the injustices that arise from them. We seek instead to promote the flourishing and fellowship of humanity in all its diversity and individuality.
- We hold that personal liberty must be combined with a responsibility to society. A free person has duties to others, and we feel a duty of care to all of humanity, including future generations, and beyond this to all sentient beings.
- We recognise that we are part of nature and accept our responsibility for the impact we have on the rest of the natural world.
2. Humanists strive to be rational
- We are convinced that the solutions to the world’s problems lie in human reason, and action. We advocate the application of science and free inquiry to these problems, remembering that while science provides the means, human values must define the ends. We seek to use science and technology to enhance human well-being, and never callously or destructively.
3. Humanists strive for fulfillment in their lives
- We value all sources of individual joy and fulfillment that harm no other, and we believe that personal development through the cultivation of creative and ethical living is a lifelong undertaking.
- We therefore treasure artistic creativity and imagination and recognise the transforming power of literature, music, and the visual and performing arts. We cherish the beauty of the natural world and its potential to bring wonder, awe, and tranquility. We appreciate individual and communal exertion in physical activity, and the scope it offers for comradeship and achievement. We esteem the quest for knowledge, and the humility, wisdom, and insight it bestows.
4. Humanism meets the widespread demand for a source of meaning and purpose to stand as an alternative to dogmatic religion, authoritarian nationalism, tribal sectarianism, and selfish nihilism
- Though we believe that a commitment to human well-being is ageless, our particular opinions are not based on revelations fixed for all time. Humanists recognise that no one is infallible or omniscient, and that knowledge of the world and of humankind can be won only through a continuing process of observation, learning, and rethinking.
- For these reasons, we seek neither to avoid scrutiny nor to impose our view on all humanity. On the contrary, we are committed to the unfettered expression and exchange of ideas, and seek to cooperate with people of different beliefs who share our values, all in the cause of building a better world.
- We are confident that humanity has the potential to solve the problems that confront us, through free inquiry, science, sympathy, and imagination in the furtherance of peace and human flourishing.
- We call upon all who share these convictions to join us in this inspiring endeavor.
Translations of the 2022 Amsterdam Declaration will be uploaded in the coming weeks and months. If you would like to submit a translation, please email [email protected]