Since the First Forum in May 2000, when religious leaders, grassroots workers, and young people from around the world came together in Tokyo, Japan to inaugurate the GNRC, members and partners like UNICEF and UNESCO have gathered every four years (now five) for a large-scale global forum. At the forums, which are supported by Arigatou International, participants assess progress, share best practices, and chart the future course for global, regional and national initiatives.
A new global initiative has emerged at each of the forums held thus far. Each has grown to take on a life of its own, with the continuing support of GNRC members and Arigatou International. They are:
- Ethics Education for Children (Geneva, 2004)
- Prayer and Action for Children (Hiroshima, 2008)
- Interfaith Initiative to End Child Poverty (Dar es Salaam, 2012)
These three initiatives, taken together, seek to fulfill the three commitments made by Rev. Takeyasu Miyamoto, President of the Arigatou Foundation, when he spoke on behalf of the GNRC at the United Nations Special Session on Children in 2002.
The First Forum of the GNRC, held in May 2000, brought together 297 men and women representing 7 major religions and 33 countries and regions to share their experiences and exchange views on how to address the various challenges facing children. Rev. Takeyasu Miyamoto, President of the Arigatou Foundation, opened the forum with the GNRC Inauguration Address. The participants went on to adopt the landmark GNRC Statement with four Study Group Reports and issued it to the world as their pledge to the future of children.
The GNRC held its Second Forum in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2004. The Forum brought together 359 people, including 38 children and young people, from 68 countries and 7 major religions for in-depth discussions on practical actions to be taken in each world region. At the Second Forum, the GNRC formally announced the establishment of the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children and signed a program cooperation agreement with UNICEF to cooperate on a major joint study on, "The Child in World Religions."
The GNRC held its Third Forum from 24th to 26th May, 2008 in Hiroshima, Japan. The Forum brought together 353 religious leaders and others from around the globe, including 42 children and young people. Participants came from 63 countries and 8 world regions, representing the Baha'i faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and many other religious and spiritual traditions. Also present were top United Nations officials, including Ms. Asha-Rose Migiro, UN Deputy Secretary General, and Ms. Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF. Some 1,300 people attended the opening and closing sessions of the Forum. Emerging from the Third Forum was the proposal for a movement of Prayer and Action for Children, focusing on worldwide celebrations each November 20th on Universal Children’s Day. Also officially launched, together with UNICEF and UNESCO, was the curriculum resource for the Ethics Education for Children program, Learning to Live Together: An Intercultural and Interfaith Programme for Ethics Education.
The GNRC Fourth Forum was held June 16-18, 2012 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It brought together about 470 participants, including religious leaders from around the world and United Nations officials and government leaders, including President Jakaya M. Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania, to address the theme: "Ending Poverty. Enriching Children: Inspire. Act. Change." Young people had a central role in the forum, with about 40 youth attending the two-day pre-meeting and inspiring the participants throughout the Forum with their unique perspectives.
The Fourth Forum saw the launch of the Interfaith Initiative to End Child Poverty (End Child Poverty). A narrative overview of the Forum is available here. Or download the colorful, comprehensive report in PDF.
Challenged by the global epidemic of violence against children, leaders and members of the world’s religious and spiritual traditions, girls and boys, women and men, from 70 countries, together with representatives of governments, the United Nations, and international and grassroots organizations, met in Panama City, Panama for the GNRC Fifth Forum, from 9-11 May 2017.
The Fifth Forum saw the launch of the Panama Declaration of Ending Violence Against Children. The Panama Commitments aim to promote and eradicate any form of violence against children. A detailed overview of the Forum is available here. Or download the comprehensive report here.