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Secularism, a guarantee for human rights

Today, 10 December, is the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The secularist movement shares its values of freedom, equality and solidarity.

 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a “common standard of achievement for all peoples”. It is not only addressed to States, but calls upon all individuals to ensure the development of human rights “by teaching and education”, and to work for their universal and effective recognition and implementation. The declaration proclaims fundamental freedoms, the principle of equality of all, but also solidarity, which requires the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.

Secularism shares these objectives and intends to contribute to their realisation. Founded on the principle of impartiality of public authorities, secularism ensures that everyone can exercise their rights and freedoms regardless of origin, convictions, beliefs or any other distinction. This founding principle of democracy has a universal value and potential.

As proclaimed in the Liège Appeal, secularism as an organisational principle of the state is indispensable for the development of a democratic political system. As the guarantor of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the secular state protects the right to believe, not believe or change one’s belief, as enshrined in the Declaration.

The Declaration is a historic proclamation of the universality of human rights and the unity of humankind.

Yet, more than 70 years after its proclamation, and despite the immense progress made, there are still many obstacles to the Declaration’s principles. Worse still, political and religious movements openly oppose them. Fundamentalists of various religions, identitarian movements and the far right attack universalism, the foundation of human rights, and want to impose their particular vision on the whole of society.

 This can only lead to a war of all against all. On the contrary, secularism and the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by emphasising what we have in common, allow the peaceful coexistence of all.