WORD LID

Elizabeth O'Casey

“I’m the Head of Delegation to the UN Human Rights Council for the International Humanist and Ethical Union, where I focus my work on international policy, human rights, freedom of expression, LGBT rights and the rights of women, particularly in relation to religious and cultural practices. I am also Vice Chair of the UN NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and an International Patron for the Pink Triangle Trust.

"Previously, I represented the US-based Center for Inquiry at the UN, and was also Vice President for the National Secular Society. I have a PhD in International Political Theory from the London School of Economics, where I was a Michael Leifer Scholar. I also spent time as a Global Justice fellow at Yale University, and worked in various policy and advocacy positions in the UK and EU.

Daily, I am deeply frustrated and saddened that across the world we see states and societies using notions of ‘culture’, ‘tradition’ and ‘religion’ as excuses for undermining human rights – and that such notions are seen by so many as trumping equality and universalism.

Accordingly, at the UN Human Rights Council, we concentrate our work on the rights of those who tend to be the first victims of control and abuse through culture, tradition and religion – e.g. those seeking to dissent through free speech, those who reject religion, women, LGBT people and the disenfranchised.

As a humanist human rights organisation we offer a unique focus - being comprised of free thinking rationalist members across the globe - and I think it’s important for us to use our voice on the international stage and highlight the deep injustice and harm caused by so many of those in power seeking to undermine the human rights of all by pursuing an agenda of cultural relativism and religious authoritarianism.”