“Humanism First, Ignorance Out!” Humanists adopt Kaohsiung Declaration at Asian Humanism Conference
From 29 to 30 December 2018, humanist groups from The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, India, and Taiwan participated in the annual Asian Humanism Conference. Held at Hotel Yam in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, they were treated to two days of capacity building and knowledge sharing, as they sketched out plans for the Young Humanists International (YHI) Asian Working Group (AsWG) for the next five years.
Hosted by Humanistic Pastafarianism in Taiwan, delegates cemented their pledge for their organisations to adopt the Kaohsiung Declaration. The Kaohsiung Declaration is derived from the Auckland Declaration was announced earlier in the year at the IHEU-organized Annual Humanism Conference in Auckland, New Zealand.
Adoption of the Kaohsiung Declaration
The Kaohsiung Declaration was specially adapted to suit the needs of Asian Humanists, who live in diverse nations rich in ancient traditions and cultures, and seeks to reaffirm the fundamental tenets of modern Humanism as applicable to these unique societies.
There was a focus on combating the trend, endemic within many Asian countries, of religiously-affiliated governments relying on or using religious dogma and its tenets to influence their governance policies, even as they infringe on the rights of human beings.
The Kaohsiung Declaration reads as follows:
We, Asian Humanists,
Reaffirming the Amsterdam Declaration as the fundamental tenets of modern Humanism,
Taking into consideration that the pan-Asian region has diverse indigenous philosophical traditions to draw upon, as well as an innate multicultural landscape that allows for diverse schools of thought to flourish,
Viewing with apprehension what appears to be a trend towards authoritarianism and State-backed dogmatism in the region, and
Noting with deep concern that authoritarian regimes cloak their actions under the guise of culture and manipulate religious and ethical issues to maintain their power,
- Uphold the rights and intrinsic value of the individual, regardless of sex, gender, nationality, caste, creed, race, or tribe;
- Solemnly affirm the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a standard to which all States should aspire;
- Further affirm the Auckland Declaration as a guide with which to address the social causes of the politics of division,
- Support secular, democratic institutions that respect and adhere to human rights;
- Reject authoritarianism, fascism, and all other forms of strongman politics;
- Appeal to all Asian governments to cease the criminalization and institutionalized persecution of minority groups;
- Call upon Humanists across the pan-Asian region to adopt the Auckland Declaration, advocating for democracy, human rights, equality and fairness, rule of law, and individual freedoms in any way they can; and
- Express a deep hope that the region may look to its long history of indigenous philosophical tradition and combine it with modern humanist philosophy, using both as tools for social progress.
The Kaohsiung Declaration was announced at a press conference, with two local councilors and two senatorial candidates ratifying the document and running on platforms centered around “humanistic values”.
Both days of the conference comprised of capacity building workshops for participants. The first workshop, conducted by incoming AsWG Chair Danielle Hill, taught participants the basics of the NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) and CSO (Civil Society Organisation) landscape.
Topics covered included foundations, grant-seeking, and partnership best practices. Also shared were the lived realities of the nonprofit scene, and how humanists in nonprofits can better their activism efforts.
The second day comprised of a workshop by Darren Wu, Marketing Programme Manager of Thinking of Marketing & Technology, a Taiwan-based startup. Darren taught participants the principles of Design Thinking, a five-step innovative process to problem-solving. Delegates utilized these techniques collaboratively work on determining the AsWG’s direction for 2019, and eventually came up with a five-year plan for a staff exchange program that will build the capacities of Humanist groups around Asia.
Working towards a stronger regional Humanist community
Participants noted that the Humanist landscape in the Asian region is still relatively small and young and that major players have yet to emerge to fully champion the needs of Humanist communities and individuals in the region.
As such, it would be imperative for a regional collaborative effort to be undertaken by young Humanist member groups to exchange and build on their knowledge, skills, and experience in order to better augment their efforts in building stronger Humanist communities with better value propositions within their respective countries.
The proposal is expected to be fleshed out by the end of January 2019 and will be presented to the IHEU for consideration.