This is very cool. Atheist Alliance International, for which I write a quarterly column on free speech and blasphemy, has been granted special consultative status with the United Nations. In an email, new AAI President Stuart Bechman says:
“Atheists face discrimination in many countries of world – including threats of imprisonment and even death – and often at the hands of their own governments,“ said AAI president Stuart Bechman. “With our new status we will be better able to provide these people with a voice in the international community.”
The UN approved AAI’s new status at its July 2013 Substantive Session following the recommendation of the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations. AAI is now able to actively engage with the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and its subsidiaries, as well as with the United Nations Secretariat, and affiliated programmes, funds and agencies.
AAI will be able to have official representatives to the UN Headquarters in New York and its Geneva and Vienna offices. AAI representatives will be able to register for and participate in events, conferences and activities of the UN. The organization may now also designate representatives to sit as observers at public meetings of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, the General Assembly, Human Rights Council and other UN intergovernmental decision-making bodies.
“AAI looks forward to working closely with allied organizations, including the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and the British Humanist Association (BHA),” said Bechman. “We also expect to coordinate with secular and religious groups in areas of mutual interest. All too often, states employ religious justifications for abuse of citizens – including journalists and artists, members of minority sects, women and people of different sexual orientations. We plan to work toward the benefits of human rights for all, be they atheist or religious.”
CFI also has official UN status, headed up by Michael De Dora. I’m sure they’ll work closely together to represent the interests of atheists, agnostics and humanists.