‘Democracy is a humanist value’, affirms 2023 World Humanist Congress

11 August, 2023

Humanists UK patron Sandi Toksvig with Chief Executive Andrew Copson at the 2023 World Humanist Congress in Copenhagen.

Humanists UK patron Sandi Toksvig gave the opening speech last week at the World Humanist Congress, speaking powerfully and emotively about her journey to humanism, and about the threats to democracy, human rights, and humanist values around the world. It was a fitting and inspiring start to a weekend of thought-provoking discussion, attended by over 400 people from Humanists International’s expansive membership spanning 120 countries.

Just as Humanists International’s founders set out the shared principles of the humanist movement in 1952 in the Amsterdam Declaration, so too, has the World Humanist Congress in 2023, with the Copenhagen Declaration on Democracy, issued on Sunday.

The Declaration affirms that:

  1. Democracy is a universal fundamental value that is essential to the realisation of humanist principles worldwide.
  2. Democracy must be broadly inclusive, transparent, accountable, and secular, with institutions and practices that are responsive to the changing needs and aspirations of citizens.
  3. Citizens must be empowered and the right to exercise citizenship must be protected without prejudice.
  4. Democracy as a culture must be actively defended against all threats, including those from regimes, movements, and political parties that embrace authoritarian principles, from those with unaccountable economic and social power, and from all other forces that seek to undermine democratic values and institutions.

The full declaration can be read on the Humanists International website. Mirroring the sentiments echoed by Sandi Toksvig in her opening address, the Declaration emphasises why humanists must work together, and with others, to advocate for a better society for everyone, and a more democratic world.


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 020 3675 0959.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 110,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.