GNRC Fourth Forum Overview
Ending Poverty, Enriching Children: INSPIRE. ACT. CHANGE.
16th-18th June 2012, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
The Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) Fourth Forum was held June 16-18, 2012 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, bringing together over 400 participants from 64 different countries around the world, including about 50 children and young people, senior religious leaders and representatives from different religious constituencies – Buddhists, Bahais, Christians, Hindus, Indigenous Traditions, Jews, Muslims, Shintoists and others – UN officials and leaders from various multilateral institutions and development agencies.
His Lordship Bishop Dr. Method Kilaini, the Auxiliary Bishop of Bukoba and Co-Patron of the GNRC Fourth Forum presided over the opening Prayer for Peace, which was followed by an inspiring Documentary Video on Poverty. A diverse group of distinguished guests and eminent supporters including President Jakaya M. Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania, who delivered the Keynote address during the opening plenary were in attendance. They all affirmatively spoke about poverty and reiterated their commitments to improving the status of the world’s children. The young people from around the world also delivered challenging and inspiring presentations, which met with great applause from all the dignitaries and delegates in attendance.
The full texts of the opening remarks of the other distinguished guests at the GNRC Fourth Forum are included in the comprehensive GNRC Fourth Forum Report. In chronological order, the speakers were:
* Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, Secretary General, African Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL—RfP)
* H.E. Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation and Co-Patron of the GNRC Fourth Forum
* His Lordship Bishop Augustus Shao, Catholic Bishop of Zanzibar and Representative of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue
* H.E. Ofelia Ortega, President from the Caribbean/Latin America, World Council of Churches (WCC)
* Mr. Anthony Okara, Deputy Chief of Staff, African Union (AU)
* Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General, Religions for Peace International
* H.E. Al Hajj Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania
* H.E. Elhadj As Sy, Regional Director, Eastern and Southern Africa Office, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
* Remarks and Introduction of the President of the United Republic of Tanzania by Hon. Ummy Ally Mwalimu, Deputy Minister Ministry of Community Development, Gender, and Children.
* Vote of Thanks by His Holiness Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji, Sri Puthige Math
* Closing Prayer by H.E. Sheikh Issa bin Shaban Simba, the Mufti of Tanzania
Other dignitaries and eminent persons present at the Forum included: H.E. Mrs. Salma Kikwete, First Lady of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Prof. Dr. Anna Tibaijuka, Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlement Development, and Former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Humans Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), His Grace Archbishop Dr. John Onaiyekan, Catholic Bishop of Abuja, Co-Chair, African Council of Religious Leaders, H.E. Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, Ecumenical Envoy to Sudan, Dr. Katherine Marshall, Executive Director of World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), Sheikh Professor Abdul Ghafoor El Busaidy, Chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), Mr. Kul Gautam, Former Executive Director of UNICEF, and Convening Chair, World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, Rev. Dr. Hans Ucko, Co-Chair, World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, Ms. Agneta Ucko, Director, Arigatou International – Geneva.
The Fourth Forum, held for the first time in Africa, came at a time when youth are leading non-violent transformations in various parts of Africa, demanding a better life, better governance and more access to opportunities, fitting the Forum’s theme of: “Ending Poverty, Enriching Children: INSPIRE. ACT. CHANGE.” It addressed issues of child poverty, its causes namely: Poor governance, War and violence and Unequal distribution of resources and how religious leaders can collaborate with other partners using their spiritual, social and moral resources to combat it.
June 16 is also the Day of the African Child, a day when in 1976, hundreds of courageous children were ruthlessly gunned down by the Apartheid Regime of South Africa for demanding better education and livelihoods and for speaking out against imposed poverty. This year’s Day of the African Child is dedicated to children with disabilities.
The children in attendance took part in the Forum as full participants and attended a two day children’s pre-meeting in Dar es Salaam, prior to the Forum, which on its closing day, H.E. Ms. Dorothy Rozga, the UNICEF Representative in Tanzania and Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, the President of Arigatou International, delivered special remarks to the children, encouraging them to actively participate in the Forum.
During the opening plenary, the children made presentations to highlight the plight of children in poverty and directly appealed to leaders present to take action to ensure their fellow children lived dignified lives, free from poverty.
Participants were engaged in presentations and group sessions on three thematic areas that provided the opportunity for a renewed commitment to tackle child poverty. After the presentations they were divided into three group to discuss indepth about the three thematic areas. Dr. Kezevino Aram, Vice Moderator Religions for Peace and Director for Shanti Ashram, Archbishop John Baptist Odama, Catholic Archbishop of Gulu and Chairperson, Uganda Episcopal Conference of the Roman Catholic Church and H.E. Sheikh Younes Aberkane, President of the Muslim Scouts Movement in France (SMF) chaired the thematic group sessions.
The full remarks of the eminent persons who spoke on the three Forum subthemes are available below:
1) Poor Governance: Building Partnerships to End Corruption: Prof. P.L.O. Lumumba, Former Director General, Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, and Advocate, the High Court of Kenya and Tanzania
2) War and Violence: Ending Violence Against Children: Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children
3) Unequal Distribution of Resources: Giving Every Child a Fair Chance: Father Leonidas Ortiz, ChiefExecutive Officer of the Latin American Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church (CELAM)
A panel discussion on: Reflections from Different Religious Traditions on How Poverty Affects Children was held and chaired by the Chief Senior Minister of the Konko Church of Izuo, H.E. Rev. Mitsuo Miyake and H.E. Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, Ecumenical Envoy to Sudan. This highlighted the effects of poverty on children according to the different religious teachings. Full remarks of the distinguished panelists for this session are available below:
- Reflections from the Islamic Tradition: Prof. Dr. Anis Ahmad, Vice Chancellor of the Riphah International University, Pakistan
- Reflections from the Christian Tradition: Sr. Janice McLaughlin, President of the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, USA
- Reflections from the Hindu Tradition: Dr. Mrs. Kala Acharya, Director, K. J. Somaiya Bharatiya Sanskriti Peetham, India
- Reflections from the Buddhist Tradition: Rev. Hidehito Okochi, Chief Priest of Juko-in Temple, Japan
- Reflections from the Jewish Tradition: Ms. Evi Guggenheim Shbeta, GNRC Coordinator for Israel
On the evening of the third day, Rev Keishi Miyamoto hosted all participants at a dinner reception whose guest of honour was H.E. Mrs. Salma Kikwete, the first lady of United republic of Tanzania. They both called for stronger human relations and committment in eradicatig child poverty. H.E. Mrs. Salma Kikwete, declared her full support for the New GNRC Poverty Initiative.
The Report from the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children (remarks by Mr. Kul Gautam and Rev. Dr. Hans Ucko) and the Report on the Ethics Education Initiative since the Launch of Learning to Live Together: An Intercultural and Interfaith Programme for Ethics Education at the GNRC Third Forum in Hiroshima, Japan (remarks by Ms. Agneta Ucko) were presented on the third day of the Fourth Forum followed by the plenary discussion and Presentation on the GNRC Fourth Forum Declaration.
On the second and third day, regional sessions incorperating all the GNRC regional networks from Africa, Arab States, South Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Israel were held to share and reflect on the work of the GNRC in the various regions, and to develop new action plans and priorities. The regional reports and action plans are included in the comprehensive GNRC Fourth Forum Report.
At the same time, Roundtable Consultations on Partnerships to Address Poverty took place with a broad variety of partners namely: Aga Khan Development Network, African Council of Religious Leaders, Arigatou International, Centre for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty (CIFA), Finn Church Aid (FCA), International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Islamic Foundation, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Religions for Peace, the World Bank, World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), and other Partners and Invited Eminent Persons. This was chaired by H.E. Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, and Dr. Katherine Marshall, the Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD).
The Declaration Drafting Committee worked later that evening to incorporate the input from the participants into a draft of the "Dar es Salaam Declaration" of the GNRC Fourth Forum. After further comments were incorporated, the declaration was read aloud during the closing ceremony by the chairperson of the Declaration Drafting Committee, His Lordship Bishop Dr. Method Kilaini, and officially presented to the children. Read the "Dar es Salaam Declaration" of the GNRC Fourth Forum and the launch statement on the GNRC's new initiative, "Mobilizing Faith-based Resources to End Child Poverty."
Presiding over the closing ceremony was H.E. Prof. Dr. Anna Tibaijuka, Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlement Development, Former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Humans Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), who offered closing remarks, which were followed by an Interfaith Prayer for Peace.