IHEYO REVIEW 2005
Written by Gea Meijers, President IHEYO 2004-2005.
IHEYO had an interesting 2005. IHEYO organised an invigorating conference on ‘interculturalism, active citizenship and humanism’, represented the humanist youth voice at several international events, campaigned against the funding of the European Union for the World Catholic Youth Days, doubled its membership of organisations and....joined IHEU(!).
When reviewing the year, it is important to mention that our annual conference was not a one and only event, but a continuer of past activities and a stepping stone for new ones. Too often, as is the writers experience, international youth conferences are not followed up in other collaborative events, which would give the gathering an enduring impact. This is not the case with IHEYO’s conferences.
Based on IHEYO’s learned lessons of previous conferences, the 2005 event was a mix of key note speeches, practical training, workshops and interesting in-depth debate. This conference required an even more active involvement of the participants than previous conference and it resulted in interesting international project proposals that are being carried out in 2006.
The conference had a European focus, being co-sponsored by the Council of Europe’s Youth Foundation. Extra effort was taken to involve French, Spanish and Italian young humanists, but this had no results. We hope to increase our contacts with humanists in these regions.
The topic was ‘interculturalism, active citizenship and humanism’. IHEYO is in favour in increasing dialogue among different life stances. It is good and necessary to be critical of some of the politics and ideas of religious groups. At the same time, it is also good to meet with people of these religions, to find out also what good it brings to people and discover our commonalities. We should be critical of ideas and of actions against the rights of all people, but we should avoid thinking in dividing lines of ‘we/good’ versus ‘them/bad’.
The international internship programme has been in existence since 2000. In this programme, a young humanist leader stays for a month at a humanist organisation in another country to gain experience and contacts. No internship took place in 2005, but IHEYO started to prepare its next internship for a Ugandan LGBT-activist (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) to help them start a newsletter. IHEYO is currently raising the funding for this internship and it hopes raise funding for more internships in 2006 and 2007.
Voicing and networking
IHEYO was present at the UNESCO youth forum, the Council of Europe’s INGO-meeting, and several other international conferences and trainings. IHEYO urged the European Union’s Commission and Parliament not to grant money to the World Catholic Youth Days. Youth days of other life stances are not given any money either and by granting money to the Catholic youth days, the EU gives up his stand of neutrality.
IHEYO placed a formal complaint at the European Commission and wrote to several parliamentarian members. Some of our member organisations did the same. IHEYO coordinated its protests against this granting of funding with other groups like the Catholics for Free Choice and the European Humanist Federation. The protests didn’t result in a rebutting of the grant or the promise of similar grants to other lifestance groups, but it gave out a clear signal for the future.
IHEYO joined tree international networks: BWPP, United and A Civic Europe. The BioWeapons Prevention Project (BWPP) is dedicated to reinforcing the norm against the weaponization of disease, and acts as a global civil society that tracks governmental and other behaviour under the treaties that codify the norm. More at: www.bwpp.org.
UNITED is a cooperation of more than 560 organisations from 49 European countries working together - united in the biggest anti-racism network. More: www.unitedagainstracism.org
IHEYO partnered with CIDEM in order to work together on the fields of education to citizenship and civic appropriation of the European construction. Together with 100 national, regional and local associations and NGOs from 21 European Union countries engaged in their respective countries on matters relating to citizenship and civic education, IHEYO signed the resolution “For a civic and popular appropriation of Europe”, and became member of the European Civic Forum. More: www.forumciviqueeuropeen.org.
IHEYO kept up its activity on the front of spreading information and providing communication. The website was updated throughout the year and an interactive forum was added. Four issues of the e-newsletter, ‘YouthSpeak’, were published, a brochure was published and widely attention has been created for IHEYO through the internet, humanist magazines and some mainstream media. Two e-mail lists are operational. IHEYO had around 7500 visitors on our website.
IHEYO finalised in 2005 some of its organisational processes. It became finally recognized under Belgian law as an international NGO; IHEYO got a nice letter from the King of Belgium. Also the discussion around the formal relationship between IHEYO and IHEU got to an end, by IHEYO joining IHEU as full member.
In the first half of 2005, IHEYO was assisted by a full-time officer that did a lot of the necessary tasks around organising our annual conference, took up a lot of the administrative tasks and helped with several other smaller projects like a new brochure, the e-newsletter ‘YouthSpeak’ and the web-maintenance. If IHEYO wants to keep up its level of activity, a staffed office is a necessity.
2005 meant an increase in membership: from 18 to 36 member organisations. But not all humanist organisations in the world are yet a member to IHEYO. Noting that IHEU has 100 members covering not even all the humanist minded groups, much more groups could join IHEYO and it costs almost nothing!!
There are many reasons to join IHEYO. Maybe the most important one is that, in this world that is getting more globalised, it is vital for movements to be internationally organised. Since our dependencies are becoming more global –an economic crisis in one part of the world can have direct effects on our economies.
We are all getting more affected by developments elsewhere. To have some influence or a better understanding of this global process, we need our movements to be internationally organised, bringing our joint concerns together at an international level. There are many issues that affect young people, in which the voice of the humanists is needed. We challenge you to join us in any way you can.