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Mexico City Congress Attracts Top Speakers From All Over World

The 1996 Humanist World Congress in Mexico City is attracting prestigious speakers from around the world. Confirmed speakers include:

  • Wole Soyinka, winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Literature, and a leading human rights campaigner, from Nigeria
  • Shulamit Aloni, Israel's leading secularist; Minister of Education in the Rabin government, Minister of Science and the Arts in the Peres government
  • Taslima Nasrin, a humanist writer and campaigner who gained worldwide attention when Islamic fundamentalists threatened her life, forcing her to flee her native Bangladesh
  • Mario Bunge, one of the world's leading philosophers of science.

Responses are still awaited from many other outstanding international figures.

The World Congress, from November 14 to 19, is titled "Global Humanism for the Cyber-Age" and will look at the potential impact of information technology, which is transforming culture, society, economics and politics across the world. These developments will require every society to rethink its structures and values. The congress will bring leading thinkers and humanist activists to the world's largest city to explore these issues and to seek humane and rational responses to the challenges as the world enters the "Cyber-Age."

Topics to be discussed at the congress include:

  • The impact of the infomedia revolution on the developing world
  • Secularism and the threat of intolerance
  • The future of sex and gender
  • Science and superstition
  • Female empowerment and sustainable development
  • Organizing humanism in the cyber-age
  • The challenge of bio-technology

The highlight of the conference will be the International Humanist Awards Banquet at which outstanding individuals will be honored for their contributions to humanism and humanity.

The congress comes after many years of growth and development by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and will include participants from many regions never before represented at a humanist meeting. Speakers will include leaders of humanist movements in Central and South America, East and West Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. This is the first IHEU Congress ever to be held in a developing country, and the ability of the Mexican humanists to host such a major meeting is itself testament to the strength of the humanist movement's recent expansion.

We are also very pleased to welcome, for the first time at a humanist conference, humanists from Iran. At least three secularist members of the National Council of Resistance, the leading exiled group opposing the Islamic regime of Iran, will address the congress. These speakers include the former Iranian ambassador to Norway and Sweden, Perviz Khazai - a humanist who defected after the Ayatollah Khomeini seized power.

Meeting Humanists From Around The World

Humanist world congresses, which occur only once every four years, provide a unique opportunity to meet humanists from around the globe. Humanists from nearly 40 countries have already expressed an interest in coming to the Mexico Congress. Whether you are making new friends or renewing old acquaintances from previous conferences, the conference will inspire international friendships and insights that last long after the meetings end.

In recognition of the value of informal and social meetings, the congress provides plenty of free time outside of formal meetings. Between each Congress session there is a 2 hour break, during which rooms will be available for "Poster Sessions": Anyone who wants to hold a workshop or discussion may put up a poster advertising the proposed meeting, with a sign-up sheet. Several Poster Sessions have already been proposed - including a planning meeting for a feminist caucus, a workshop in critical thinking, and a seminar on Secular Organizations for Sobriety. Participants can also use these extended breaks to go for a meal in the hotel or the city, to explore the many shops and historic sites in the neighborhood, or to use one of the conference computers to surf the Internet.

Cultural Events And Tours

The Congress is divided into two parts. Speaker meetings are scheduled from Thursday evening until Sunday afternoon. From Sunday evening through to Tuesday evening there will be cultural events and sightseeing tours, including a trip to the ancient Teotihuacan city, famed for its Sun and Moon Pyramids.

After the congress ends there are a range of tours available for conference participants who would like to spend more time exploring the beautiful countryside, exciting resorts and fascinating culture of Mexico. Cosmo Tours, an experienced Mexican tour company, is offering Congress participants a choice of three tours leaving on November 20: the 8-day "Mayan Route" expedition, the 4-day "Exciting Acapulco" break, and the 6-day "Mixtecan World" tour. Contact the Council for Secular Humanism for more information.

Staying In Comfort

Congress participants receive a 50% discount on accommodation in the five star Congress venue, the Hotel Westin Galeria Plaza. The luxurious hotel rooms include en suite marble bathrooms, air conditioning, TVs, phones and all amenities. The Westin Galleria Plaza contains a wide range of world-class restaurants, cafis and bars. Facilities include a gym and rooftop swimming pool.

The Hotel Westin Galleria Plaza is located in the world-famous Zona Rosa. Zona Rosa is Mexico City's most celebrated district, where the capital's financial district converges with Mexico's best shops, galleries, restaurants and night-life.

With the 50% discount for congress participants, single and double rooms at the Westin Galleria Plaza are US $85 plus 15% tax per room, i.e., $97.75 inclusive. Triple rooms are available for US $105 per room plus 15% tax, i.e. $120.75 inclusive. For those wishing more economic accommodations, a list of recommended alternative lodgings ranging from US $16 to $40 per night (including tax) is available from the Council for Secular Humanism.

November, following the Autumn rains, is the best month for visiting Mexico City. The weather is fresh, bright and sunny. Temperatures reach the 70s Fahrenheit in the day, cooling off to about 50 degrees F at night. If you have family members who do not wish to attend the Congress, the Westin Galeria Plaza is an ideal base from which they can explore Mexico City. Family members who do not attend Congress meetings will still benefit from the 50% hotel discount throughout your stay and they can take part in Congress tours if they book in advance.

The number of places available at the Congress is limited. So please book early to ensure you are part of this important international humanist event.

You may register by completing the form in this issue of SHB. Please send booking forms and inquiries to: Humanist World Congress, PO Box 664, Amherst NY 144226-0664. Phone: (716) 636 1733; fax: (716) 636 1733.

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This page was last updated 01/21/2004

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