History

What sets Hivos apart? What is development cooperation ‘guided by humanist values’, as set out in our statutes? When Hivos was founded in 1968, its founders were inspired by principles such as individual freedom, personal responsibility and self-determination. As such, Hivos distinguished itself – and still does – from the existing, mostly church-based organisations in the sector. It is reflected in our work by the emphasis that is given to self-determination, identity, empowerment and the strength of people themselves.

Humanism is a body of philosophies and ethical perspectives that emphasise the value of human beings, individually and collectively, and put people and human values at the heart of everything. Its name is derived from the Latin ‘humanitas’. Humanism broadly means two things: ‘being human’ and ‘the pursuit of humanity’. Humanism is thus an ideology that espouses reason, ethics and justice based on people’s ‘reasonable and decent’ skills in interpreting the world and the place of mankind.

The contemporary Dutch humanist movement originated in 1945 when the organisation Humanitas and the Dutch Humanist League (1946) were founded. These organisations, together with the Vereniging Weezenkas, were involved in the founding of the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries in the 1960s. On 5 January 1968 Hivos officially began with development projects in developing countries.

In our over 40-year history, we have always been guided by humanist values, from which we derive our own core values:

  • human dignity and self-determination
  • pluralism and democracy
  • focus on material and non-material aspects
  • mutual solidarity and responsible citizenship
  • respect for people’s cultural and social identity
  • responsible management of nature and natural resources