More about the history of IHEYO

In 2003, the 2000 incarnation of IHEYO has been able to find out more about its history. Through Alexandre Marius Dees de Steria who represents IHEU at the Council of Europe and was a key advocate for the establishment of a youth wing for IHEU. In January 2003 he sent us some of his documents giving an insight into the history of the youth section of IHEU. This note is a summary extracted from his documents.

IHEYO or IHEU Youth Section, as it was then called, was established in 1966 at the IHEU Congress in Paris. The Youth Section arose as a means of enabling contact among the youth from different countries who were striving for common goals. In the 1970s, IHEU Youth Section was present at several international youth NGO meetings under the auspices of the UN, presenting its viewpoint on various topical issues. Paul Postma, later IHEU Treasurer, was a key figure in the Youth Section at this time. Early meetings focused on birth control (Milan, 1969), student revolt (Boston, 1970), and practical Humanism (Ghent, 1972), and the 1974 conference was devoted to the role of consumption in a world of widespread poverty and facing an environmental crisis. However, the zest of the early 1970s began to fade.

In 1982, Alexandre tried to re-establish its vitality, persuading IHEU to take up the matter, but funding for international meetings was not always easy to come by during this time. The IHEYO committee met several times during the 1980s, and a newsletter was published. In 1989, Hans Hoekzema and Frank Dut from the Netherlands organized a highly successful summer youth camp, attracting participants from Belgium, Norway, USA, and India, as well as the Netherlands.

This was followed in 1990 by an important IHEYO Congress with nearly 80 participants, which ran parallel to IHEU's World Congress in Brussels, and another parallel to the IHEU Congress in Amsterdam in 1992 with 50 participants. Yet there were problems with continuity. The high expectations needed correction, and a feeling of disappointment is sometimes noticeable in the minutes of committee meetings.

A period of inactivity set in after 1993. At the beginning of the 1990s, the IHEYO secretariat, which had been based in the IHEU offices in the Netherlands, moved to Brussels. Several years later, it moved again, to Germany, before returning to the IHEU offices, now based in London, UK, by the end of 1997. A new effort to regenerate IHEYO came in 1998. This time the initiative came from IHEU Headquarters. And that is how the present form of IHEYO emerged.

Since 2000 IHEYO became really active, starting with an internship programme and in 2002 with an international conference. In 2003 youth from 15 humanist organisations re-estabhlised IHEYO as a formal organisation with an Executive Committee. IHEYO is now working on expanding its projects, contacts and strengthening it's organisation as a formal umbrella organisation.

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