(13 August 2011) Sophie in ‘t Veld receives the International Humanist Award in the Norwegian capital Oslo. The prize is awarded by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, an organisation dedicated to spreading humanist ideas. Previous recipients of the International Humanist Award include Nobelprize winners Amartya Sen (India) and Russian dissident and nuclear scientist Andrei Sakharov, and Alexander Dubcek, the Slovak politician leader of Czechoslovakia (1968–1969), famous for his attempt to reform the communist regime during the Prague Spring. Sophie in ‘t Veld is very honoured with being awarded the prestigious prize. “This is a beautiful surprise. Humanism offers the right answers for many problems in society.”
“More and more, society is being organized as a permanent trade off of collective interests and privileges, rather than a community of individual citizens and their individual rights, protected by state institutions. But in a society built on collective, rather than individual interests, there is greater potential for conflict between groups. Therefore the focus should be first and foremost on promoting a secular democracy, based on individual citizens’ rights for all, including for women, for gay and lesbian people, for religious and for non-religious people…As the experience of European integration shows, the humanist idea of individual freedoms, as well as secular state institutions that treat all citizens equally, is a precondition for peace and stability.”
“It is urgent and imperative that humanists and secularists get organised and make themselves heard in the European political debate. Conservative religious groups are well organised, and not reticent to make their voice heard and to actively seek political power and influence. It is time we became less timid as humanists. It is time for more assertive, more “militant” humanism. It is crucial not only for our own European citizens, but for the effectiveness of Europe’s soft power in the world. ”
Sophie In ‘t Veld said being awarded the prize “gives me the energy to work even harder and bring human rights to the attention of an even wider audience.” Read Sophie in ‘t Veld’s speech on ‘The Role of the EU in conflict prevention” here.
Earlier this year in the UK, Sophie in ‘t Veld was proclaimed ‘Secularist of the year 2011′ by the National Secular Society.