November 12, 2000
The Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC), inaugurated in May 2000 to develop new action for children through religious cooperation, aims to launch a grassroots-level global movement to create a better environment for children in the 21st century. This movement will be initiated by the religious people of the international community with the cooperation of international organizations, national governments, NGOs, businesses, scholars, and people of all disciplines and regions of the world.
Toward this end, the GNRC Secretariat is currently planning to pursue the following two approaches, thanks to the suggestions and advice of GNGC members.
1. Action Targeting Poverty Eradication, Leading up to the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children
With the 10th anniversary of the World Summit for Children, the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children will be held in September 2001 to review the efforts of the international community for children over the last decade and to adopt a new vision and action plans for the future.
In order to join in the international efforts leading up to this historical event and to make significant contributions as a religious NGO and from the standpoint of religious people, the GNRC Secretariat wishes to launch poverty elimination activities focused on education. Poverty is in the background of the many problems facing children, and education will be the key to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Since poverty has spiritual as well as material aspects, religious people are expected to play a pivotal role in this task. (Please refer to the working paper on poverty eradication.)
In order to focus on the areas where poverty is most acute, we propose beginning with Asia, Africa and Latin America, and note that it will be important to take unique approaches suited to the circumstances of each region. In Africa, for example, where armed conflicts are prevailing, we believe the focus should be on peace education, while in South Asia, early childhood development should be emphasized along with education.
We hope to demonstrate the commitment of the GNRC to this course of action at the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children in September 2001, and at the same time, from the standpoint of religious people, to propose a global-scale movement for children.
2. Regional Approach to a Global Movement
In order to develop a global movement for children initiated by religious people based on the GNRC Statement and the Reports of the First Forum Study Groups, while still maintaining global collaboration among the members of the GNRC as a whole, we propose developing concrete actions by region.
We plan to set up posts in the six regions of Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, identify the issues that should be tackled in each region and establish working groups of religious activists with GNRC members at their core in order to launch concrete activities in collaboration with a wide range of other actors.
In Asia, Africa and Latin America, activities tackling poverty eradication in the lead up to the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children in September 2001 — as mentioned above in Approach 1 — would be an effective starting point for the development of this regional cooperation.
In developing working groups, the GNRC website will serve as the center of communication and coordination, a place where GNRC members can exchange information and opinions so that suitable approaches and action plans can be identified and advanced. Off-line meetings of working groups can also be organized in order to promote cooperation not only among GNRC members but also with other religious people, academics, government officials, international organizations and NGOs.