Humanists condemn “the politics of division”, resurgent in many parts of the world

Representatives of the worldwide humanist movement have condemned the spread of “the politics of division” in various countries and regions, and urged governments to resist consolidating power by demonizing minorities.

Representatives of humanist and secular organizations under the umbrella of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) approved The Auckland Declaration Against The Politics of Division, at the IHEU General Assembly in New Zealand today.

The resolution (see below) focuses on the demagogic tendency, “resurgent in many parts of the world… exemplified in a new generation of so-called “strong men” politicians, who purport to stand up for popular interests, but who are eager to diminish human rights and disregard minorities in order to gain and retain power for their own ends.” Such leaders are “a present threat to human dignity, the rule of law, human rights, and freedom globally.”

Humanists have been particularly concerned about trends in Russia, the United States, China, India, Hungary, Poland, the Philippines, and Turkey.

Welcoming the resolution, Sara Passmore, president of the Humanist Society of New Zealand which hosted the IHEU in Auckland, said “I’m delighted that this resolution has been approved here in New Zealand. This is a country that is working hard to redress historical injustices.

“Even so, we have an increasingly divided population, with a false narrative of persecution dominating headlines to the detriment of genuine discussion about human rights. I hope that these efforts in New Zealand would serve as something of a model: as the Auckland Declaration says, we must proactively resist the tendency to divide and demonize human beings.”

Introducing the resolution at the IHEU General Assembly, president of the IHEU, Andrew Copson, said, “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, and I commend the resolution to you.” 

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