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Humanists condemn the rise of ‘the politics of division’

IHEU Director of Advocacy Elizabeth O’Casey

Meeting at the General Assembly of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) in New Zealand, representatives of humanist and secularist organisations from around the globe have passed a resolution condemning the resurgence of the politics of division and demagoguery that is taking place in many parts of the world. Humanists UK, a prominent member of IHEU, has expressed serious concerns about the rise of ‘strong men’ politicians in Europe, particularly in Hungary, Poland, Italy, Austria, and Turkey, whose ‘populist’ rhetoric is undermining human rights and being used to justify the mistreatment of minority groups.

The resolution, known as the Auckland Declaration, affirms the humanist principle that ‘the best ethical foundation from which to approach the problems of today’s world and the future of us all is to try to see humanity as one global community.’ It states that the problems faced across the world today are more complex than ever before and that any politician who claims to have easy answers to them should be subject to close scrutiny.

Humanists UK’s Chief Executive, and President of IHEU, Andrew Copson commented, ‘I think it’s fairly safe to say that around the world, demagogues of various stripes have been on the rise in recent years. In Turkey, the Philippines, even the United States, there are serious threats to human rights – and perhaps now even to the very value of truth itself.… Almost everywhere there is some discussion of “fake news”, “alternative facts”, and the pros and cons of free media; there is a rising dissent against universal human rights; and — this is the main focus of our resolution — a concerted attempt from many quarters to divide humanity…the “Politics of Division” refers to the committed attempt to drive wedges between human beings, whether it’s ethnic majorities against minorities, indigenous-born against immigrants, attacking refugees, or singling out people by race, religion or belief, sex, sexuality, gender identity, or any other arbitrary characteristic under which people are demonized.’

‘I do believe this is happening more – and in more countries where in previous decades we might have thought that such division was being resisted. … I believe it is imperative that as humanists we have some response to these anti-Enlightenment, anti-human trends.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan on or 07951 176 245.

Read the full text of the resolution:

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At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world umbrella group bringing together more than 100 Humanist, atheist, rationalist, secularist, and freethought organizations from 40 countries.

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