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In this issue

Editorial note
Davos 2006, a better future for the youth

The next United Nations Secretary General, IHEYO recommends a women’s candidate
Support the establishment of a statute for a European Association

Humanist Events

Report IHEU General Asembly
International Atheist conference in Iceland, 24 and 25 June
Conference ‘defending Secularism’, Nigeria 20 and 21 June

Design expo at TransVision, 17-19 August, Finland

In the Spotlight: the Atheist Centre in India

**************************** Editor’s Note **************************


Dear readers,

We cannot wait with a next issue of Youth SpeakJ. There is so much to tell, we have decided to publish this extra edition.

In this issue more news on the Campaigns IHEYO is supporting. 

IHEYO wrote to the missions of the UN members of the Security Council to urge them to consider recommending a qualified women candidate for the post of the next General Secretary of the UN, now taken by Kofi Annan.

IHEYO supports the campaign for more recognition and support for European civil society and for the establishment of a statute for a European Association. The campaign has been set up by the European Civic Forum of which IHEYO is a member. Individual signatures to the declaration are much needed.

Individuals and groups can support both campaigns by writing or e-mailing letters, inform others around you or sign the petition.

You can also find news on
coming international humanist conferences interesting for young people taking place in Iceland and Nigeria. And a short report on the General Assembly of the IHEU (the International Humanist and Ethical Union).


A YouthSpeak wouldn’t be complete without its opinions. In this issue an opinion on this year’s World Economic Forum. We promised it in the last issue, but now you can definitely read it. Also you can find a humanist organisation in the spotlight.

The organisation in the spotlight is the Atheist Centre with whom IHEYO organises its 2006 conference. You can still apply:



Enjoy reading!

Gea Meijers, executive director IHEYO


DAVOS 2006

Davos 2006, the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, might have been clearly about the future of the world economies and the competitiveness of major players, but it was as well intrinsically focusing on the implications for the youth who are a core determinant in the social, political-economical transformation of the global community. This world’s Economic forum totaling to a gigantic annual gathering of over 2,000 business leaders, politicians, academicians and other influential types, considered India and China to be some of the future greater Economies by 2050.

IHEYO is organizing its conference and General assembly in India. Along the main theme of  “Critical thinking “, participants can have a unique opportunity to come close to one of the anticipated old re-known waft of curry now becoming an Economic giant. Reputable Economists like Jim O’ Neill, Augusto Lopez-Claros and Micheal E Porter explored the Economic future of this planet with the focus on India and China.


From the global Economic research center, Jim O’ Neill projected that Chinas economy is already substantially bigger than India, and wont lose ground as both grow into world economic titans. To him China’s economy will be the biggest by 2050 and India only third, next to US.

Lopez-Claros of the World Economic forum estimated that nothing big would change from his current report that placed China at number 49, one ahead of India. He attributes such a performance to corruption, and the chronic lack of infrastructure.

We all know that, naturally such predictions depend on a huge number of assumptions that could be derailed by geo-political instability or Western protectionism. Anyhow, Davos 2006 was an indicator to the youth that their role in shaping the much speculated future is instrumental and I hope IHEYO will create a positive impact through rationalizing on critical thinking. The gathering of quite many youthful humanists in India – coming November- will be an open forum to ponder on all kinds of critical issues in line with economic, academic and philosophical spheres. 


Asaba Lawrence Abwooli, boardmember IHEYO



The Next United Nations Secretary-General: Time for a Woman
1945-2006: 3 Europeans, 2 Africans, 1 Latin American, 1 Asian, 0 Women

IHEYO wrote to the missions of the UN members of the Security Council to urge them to consider recommending a qualified women candidate for the post of the next General Secretary of the UN, now taken by Kofi Annan.

In the sixty years since the United Nations was founded, no woman has ever been elected to serve as Secretary-General, despite the fact that there are many qualified candidates. Women are underrepresented in the ranks of the organization, as well as at the top. As of 30 June 2005, women occupied only 37.1% of professional and higher positions and only 16.2% of the Under-Secretaries General were women. Women’s unequal access to positions of decision-making power around the world hinders progress toward all the United Nations’ goals, including equality, development and peace. 

The election of a new United Nations Secretary-General will take place in 2006, when the term of current Secretary-General Kofi Annan comes to an end. Tradition has it that the post of Secretary-General should rotate so that each geographical region gets its “turn.” Women have never had a “turn,” and there are many qualified women from all regions of the world who could serve as Secretary-General.

Equality Now set up an international campaign for this, in which you can join by writing to the UN:


Support the establishment of a statute for a European Association

Join the European campaign to encourage the EU to take more actions in supporting European Civil Society. The EU can do more! An important step forward would be the establishment of a statute for a European Association. This is currently being proposed by several Members of European Parliament (MEP’s).

You can make a difference and support the campaign, as organisation or as individual by:

-signing the declaration,

-asking others to sign (like spreading the signature list for the petition on a public meeting)
-send a letter to your European Member of Parliament.

You can find more about the campaign (like the letters you can use) at:


Many organisations across Europe are supporting the campaign which is coordinated by European Civic Forum of which IHEYO is a member.


The people of Europe are turning away from the European project. Through abstentions and protest votes, they are indicating their distance from the European Union and its Institutions. A new generation of women and men can not be satisfied with the argument that Europe delivered peace and prosperity. They are looking for a new narrative and a new democratic dialogue to re-engage with the vision of a new and enlarged Europe of the future.

Across the EU’s 25 countries, millions of European citizens are working in hundreds of thousands of NGOs and associations engaged in international development, culture, gender, education, social justice, anti racism, the environment, solidarity or sport, for a better world. They offer a true education in citizenship and promote social cohesion and commitment. Distinct from and complementary to political and union organisations, associations and NGOs are mediators providing a place for individuals to come together freely and voluntarily, around shared endeavours.

NGOs and associations, as middlemen, are also a vital link between citizens and public authorities. Each a fundamental place of expression, they can all become places likely to restore civic aspirations in European citizens.

Participatory democracy, by being complementary to representative democracy, can create and increase a civic and popular ownership of the European project . The more citizens feel they have had a chance to contribute to the public debate, the more the decisions and proposals made by Member States and the European Union will be heard, understood and integrated.

Therefore, we, European citizens involved in associations and NGO’s from all European union countries ask to the Council, the European Commission and the Parliament to :

- strengthen the democratic infrastructure for an open and institutionalised debate in which associations and NGO’s, carrying European citizens’ word, play a fundamental role,

- establish a statute for a European association similar to the structure that has been created for European enterprises and European cooperatives. Such a European statute will acknowledge the critical role of associations’ and NGOs’ in European civil dialogue because of their civic and social functions,

- support European associations conforming to this statute, to organise meetings, exchanges and trans-national debates. Thus allowing millions of citizens to build a European political culture and therefore to feel more deeply involved in a more democratic construction of Europe, a Europe in which diversity will be an asset and not a problem.

European citizens have grown tired of a debate overly focused on the economy and growth which has come to dominate the European political discourse. Responsibility for the waning of the European idea is shared by many, however it is up to European leaders and decision makers to put in place a strategy for reviving democracy.

The European Union has invested a great deal of money building roads, bridges and other kinds of infrastructure. The time has come to pay the same kind of attention to building the basis for a more participatory European democracy.

We, European citizens involved with civil society organisations, by signing this declaration, show our determination to get involved, through the work of our associations and NGOs, in building a new democratic structure for a Europe which, must be social, cultural, civic, and sustainable, an example in terms of international solidarity and the aspiration to “live together” harmoniously.



************************************* HUMANIST EVENTS *******************************

Report IHEU General Assembly

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU, just held its annual General Assembly, in April in New York. IHEU is the global umbrella organization for humanist groups and brings together more than 100 member organizations from 40 countries. IHEYO and IHEU work together where possible and regularly share information.

The IHEU's annual General Assembly saw the election of a new president, Sonja Eggerickx of Belgium. Active in the humanist movement for more than three decades, Eggerickx works as a school inspector for a subject called "non-confessional ethics" -- a public school course on the humanist lifestance. Sonja Eggerickx has been IHEU laision to IHEYO the past few years.

IHEYO congratulated IHEU with their successful General Assembly and congratulated Sonja with her new office.

The new IHEU Executive Committee is now composed of:

  • Sonja Eggerickx (Belgium) - President
  • Larry Jones (USA) - First Vice President
  • Rob Buitenweg (The Netherlands) - Vice President
  • Jack Jeffery, CBE (UK) - Vice President
  • Roar Johnsen (Norway) - Vice President
  • Roger Lepeix (France) - Treasurer
  • Suresh Lalvani (director of operations and general secretary), non-voting member
  • Babu Gogineni (director of programmes), non-voting member

Among the re-elected boardmembers was Institute of Humanist Studies President Larry Jones who recently received the top honor of the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) at the joint SSA and Atheist Alliance International (AAI) annual conference in Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday April 15.

Jones received the Freethought Backbone Award in recognition of "enduring and exceptional commitment to our movement," especially his role as founder and president of the Institute for Humanist Studies.
Outgoing IHEU president Roy Brown (UK, Switzerland) will continue his involvement with IHEU as Chairman of IHEU's Growth and Development Committee. IHEYO has thanked Roy Brown for his active, compassionate and visionary chairmanship in the past three years.

Brown’s activism has not gone unnoticed.
The Danish Free Press Society awarded this Spring its newly-instituted Free Press Prize to the Norwegian-Pakistani comedienne and satirist Shabana Rehman and IHEU President Roy Brown. Announcing the awards, the society said, "As President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Roy Brown has been a tireless advocate of free speech as part and parcel of human rights. He has thus made an invaluable contribution to the defence of the open society and freedom of expression”.

The next IHEU General Assembly will be held in Berlin, Germany, in June 2007.

************************************* HUMANIST EVENTS *******************************

International Atheist conference in Iceland, 24 and 25 June

The Atheist Alliance International and SAMT (the Atheist Society of Iceland) will host the first international Freethought, Rationalist, Humanist, Skeptic meeting to be held at the top of the world, in Reykjavik, Iceland on June 24 & 25, 2006.

SAMT is coordinating the event along with three other Freethought organizations in Iceland: Siddment (the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association), Skeptikus, and Vantrú.

Known skeptics and scientists will be speaking as well as a selection of Icelandic speakers. The foreign speakers are: Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins, Margaret Downey, Mynga Futrell, Paul Geisert, Julia Sweeney, Bobbie Kirkhart, Annie Laurie Gaylor and Brannon Braga.

There will be an informal get together in the evening of 23 June with the two conference days being 24 and 25 June. And for those interested in taking some vacation in Iceland, there are post and pre tours organised. More details, like the conference schedule, see:


Conference ‘defending Secularism’, Nigeria 20 and 21 June

The Nigerian Humanist Movement will be hosting an international conference to mark its 10th anniversary. Date: June 20th - 21st 2006. Venue: Banquet Hall, University of Benin, Edo State. Theme: Defending Secularism. Speakers include: Norm Allen, Executive Director, African Americans for Humanism, USA; Hugo Estrella, International Director, Center for Inquiry, USA; Fadel Niang, Professor, Ecole Supérieure Polytehcnique - Senegal and Executive Director Center for Inquiry-Senegal. Registration Fees: Local Particpants: 2000 nigerian naria, Overseas Participants: 100 dollars.

For more information:

************************************ (TRANS)HUMANIST EVENT *******************************

World Transhumanist Association

Transhumanism has roots in secular humanist thinking, yet is more radical in that it promotes not only traditional means of improving human nature, such as education and cultural refinement, but also direct application of medicine and technology to overcome some of our basic biological limits. One could see it as a specific defined way of thinking that is evolved from humanist philosophy

Design expo at TransVision, 17-19 August, Finland

A request from Peter Adegoke, co-chair TSN and president of IHEYO member organisation

Ibadan University Humanist Society:

Participate in (re)Design 2006, a design expo for student work focused on the intersection of design and biotechnology, posing what we feel will be the most important design question of the twenty-first century: ‘What happens when the human body itself can be redesigned?’.

The expo will be part of TransVision 2006 -the World Transhumanist Association's annual global conference- to be held in Helsinki, Finland, August 17-19. The WTA counts among its members and associates some of the leading thinkers and writers working on the ethical and philosophical implications of coming technological developments.

The expo itself is run by the Transhumanist Student Network. For further information, don't hesitate to contact me. Like most things dealing with the future, this expo is partly an experiment, and we look forward to working with academics and students worldwide to make it a successful, thought-provoking event”.,
Peter Adegoke:

****************************In the Spotlight ************************

The Atheist Centre, India


The Atheist Centre in India focuses on imparting scientific, secular, democratic ideas through various programs and activities in order to promote humanism, atheism, secularism, and scientific temper. The Centre was founded by Gora (1902-1975) & Saraswathi Gora (b 1912) in 1940.


Under the umbrella of the Atheist Centre, there are three non-governmental organizations: Arthik Samata Mandal, Samskar and Vasavya Mahila Mandali that focus on comprehensive development of the society with major thrust on vulnerable sections such as the children, women, disabled, elderly and socially and economically marginalized communities.

The secular social work approach is being carried out through activities such as counselling, legal guidance, promoting livelihood options, strengthening habitats, encouraging education both to children and adults, rural innovations, and creating awareness on health. Its area of operation is both in urban and rural as well as flood and cyclone prone areas of Andhra Pradesh, South of India.

The Atheist Centre is working in approximately 300 villages, working with tribals, handloom weavers, women victims of torture, children living with HIV AIDS, Joginis (a remnant of Devadasi System), criminals, street children, child labourers, women with social problems, disaster victims, fisherfolk, rural artisans, agricultural labourers, small & marginalized farmers, youth & adolescents, pregnant and lactating mothers, etc.

The Centre networks with like-minded organizations including village level women groups, community based organizations, children’s clubs and youth clubs. The Atheist Centre provides direct services and it support services.

In order to promote scientific outlook, it organizes large-scale hands-on science, environment, medical & disaster management exhibitions and organizes programs to investigate the claims of the paranormal such as the witchcraft and sorcery.


Atheist Centre works for a post religious society and promotes peaceful, non-violent and constructive activities for social change, critical thinking, spirit of inquiry and Positive Atheism as a way of life. In order to break the caste and religion barriers, it promotes inter-caste and inter-religious marriages. It also encourages children to be given secular names. It organizes atheist study camps, national and international conferences on atheism & social change. It publishes journals and books on Atheism. It maintains livewire contact with like-minded national and international organizations. 

All in all, plenty of reasons to be guests at the Atheist Centre and participate in the IHEYO-Atheist Centre 2006 conference!

IHEYO YouthSpeak, Edited:
Gea Meijers, Lars-Petter Helgestad and Asaba Lawrence

Contact YouthSpeak at:

Signed articles does not necessarily reflect the official view of IHEYO
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