29 Million Reasons to Work Together
This is the story of faith based collaboration on an unprecedented scale. The Global Freedom Network has been formed to help eradicate modern slavery. We are grateful to Archbishop David Moxon for providing us with this case study. Below, you can read the launch press release and joint statement in full.
God’s world in which all can walk free
Many world leaders have condemned modern slavery and human trafficking, including Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury who in 2013, referred to the selling of Jacob into Egypt as a challenging example from the biblical witness. Pope Francis has declared trafficking as a crime against humanity and went on to say the “We must unite our efforts to free the victims and stop this increasingly aggressive crime which threatens not only individuals but the basic values of society”.
To paraphrase the concerns of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science, and the Anglican Alliance; despite the efforts of many, human slavery is a plague on a vast scale in many countries across the world today. Victims are hidden away in private homes, in illegal establishments, in factories, on farms, behind closed doors, and other places in the cities, villages and slums of the world’s richest and poorest nations. This situation is not improving but, on the contrary, is probably deteriorating to an estimated 29,000,000 people who are enslaved in this way. There is now a compelling need to eradicate modern slavery and trafficking in human beings.
When Archbishop Justin visited Pope Francis in June 2013, he raised the challenge of human trafficking as an issue for the churches and for him personally. The Pope agreed having initiated this challenge within the Roman Catholic Church some months before.
After much negotiation over the months since then a “Global Freedom Network” to help eradicate modern slavery from a faith base has been established, co-signed on March 17 2014, by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Sir David Moxon; the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science, Bishop Sanchez Sorondo; and the CEO of the international philanthropic anti-slavery NGO from Perth Western Australia, Walk Free Foundation, Mr Andrew Forrest. “Walk Free” have made this network financially possible by giving an initial 2 million euro. There will be fund-raising over the next period to raise another four million for a five year programme to eradicate modern slavery from a faith base.
'It is our moral imperative to make ours the last generation that has to fight the trade in human lives'
Walk Free Foundation and Muslim scholars in Alexandria, Egypt on behalf of and with the leadership of the Al Azhar, have also been in detailed discussions. On December 2013 a Fatwa was issued by the Al Azhar Al Sharif, Preaching and Opinion committee in Alexandria, unilaterally declaring against modern slavery and human trafficking, from a Muslim perspective based on the teachings of the Quran. It is expected that other world faiths will take this approach as well, and hopefully join the Global Freedom Network.
Stakeholders, at all levels, have a moral and legal duty to eradicate this crime against humanity and strive to ensure that all human beings co-exist in freedom, equality, harmony and peace in accordance with the values of our shared humanity. With collaborators from all over the world we must expose these hidden crimes by using today’s technology and working through good and just national and international institutions. It is our moral imperative to make ours the last generation that has to fight the trade in human lives.
The Global Freedom Network has some of its earliest roots in the visits of Mr Andrew Forrest to the Vatican and to Lambeth Palace, as well as the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science Conference on November 2013 in Vatican City. The Network comprises a Council of representatives from the faiths involved, including the foundational Anglican and Roman Catholic denominations, as well as Walk Free. There will be a smaller Rome-based Executive Board of Directors of three, presently Bishop Sanchez Sorondo, Archbishop David Moxon and Mr Andrew Forrest, working with a full time researcher and faith based action planner, Ms Antonia Stampalija.
The action plans of the GFN will be used to challenge and encourage the different networks of the churches and faiths to act decisively and comprehensively across the world. This action planning will involve the Holy See, the Anglican Alliance, governments and national authorities, civil society organisations, Christians, all religions and all people of good will.
There is a five year action plan which is working itself out since April 1st 2014. There will be liaison and coordination with these five pillars:
- the Walk Free movement itself
- a Global Slavery index
- total business engagement
- the Freedom Fund to determine what works
- the Global Fund to enable well researched strategies across the world.
The Anglican Centre in Rome will support this new network in every way and will integrate its own time and energy into the cause.
"This is an example of practical mission-based ecumenism, where Anglicans and Roman Catholics, working in good faith together with many others, will coordinate their efforts to challenge one of the world’s worst evils and greatest forms of suffering. When mission drives ecumenism in this way, we will discover a deep and abiding communion, recognising Christ in our midst. The Anglican Centre is committed to this work: One Church, for one world – God’s world – in which all can walk free. We will find that as we walk together on the pathway of justice, that our talking together will improve, and on this Emmaus journey we will meet the risen Christ who falls in step between us. And this Christ is not divided, so neither will we be."
Prayer, peace and poverty - click to read a report on a recent meeting between Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby
Press release, 17 March 2014
New Initiative by Global Faiths to Eradicate Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking by 2020
The Vatican Monday 17 March 2014: Eradicating modern slavery and human trafficking across the world by 2020 is the objective of a ground-breaking agreement announced today at the Vatican. This unprecedented agreement among representatives of major faiths inaugurates the Global Freedom Network (GFN) which also has the Walk Free Foundation as a major partner.
The Memorandum of Agreement and Joint Statement establishing the Global Freedom Network had the following signatories:
- On behalf of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences
- On behalf of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Egypt
Dr Mahmoud Azab
- On behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby
The Most Reverend Sir David John Moxon, his representative to the Holy See
- On behalf of the Walk Free Foundation
Mr Andrew Forrest, founder.
The Joint Statement by the Global Freedom Network signatories underscored the searing personal destructiveness of modern slavery and human trafficking and called for urgent action by all other Christian Churches and Global Faiths. The Global Freedom Network is an open association and other faith leaders will be invited to join and support this initiative.
Modern slavery and human trafficking are crimes against humanity.
The physical, economic and sexual exploitation of men, women and children condemns 30 million people to dehumanization and degradation. Every day we let this tragic situation continue is a grievous assault on our common humanity and a shameful affront to the consciences of all peoples.
Any indifference to those suffering exploitation must cease. We call to action all people of faith and their leaders, all governments and people of goodwill, to join the movement against modern slavery and human trafficking and support the Global Freedom Network.
Only by activating, all over the world, the ideals of faith and of shared human values can we marshal the spiritual power, the joint effort and the liberating vision to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking from our world and for all time. This evil is manmade and can be overcome by faith-inspired human will and human effort.
We salute all those already engaged in this struggle, and fervently hope that this new project will further encourage their commitment to set free the most oppressed of our brothers and sisters.
Despite the best endeavours of so many in so many countries, modern slavery and human trafficking continue to expand. Victims are hidden away: in places of prostitution, in factories and farms, on fishing boats, and illegal establishments, in private homes behind locked doors and in myriad other places, in cities, villages and slums in the world’s richest nations and poorest nations.
The Global Freedom Network will take up the instruments of faith – prayer, fasting and almsgiving. There will be a world day of prayer for the victims and for their freedom. Everyone of faith and everyone of goodwill will be requested to join in reflection and action. Dedicated prayer networks will be formed in all parts of the world.
Under the Agreement, all parties commit to pursuing all avenues and pathways to galvanise global action to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking. Action plans for the first year will be developed to engage:
- All global faiths to modern slavery-proof their supply chains and investments and to take remedial action if necessary
- All global faiths to mobilize their youth sections to support programmes to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking
- Families, schools, universities, congregations and institutions to educate on the nature of modern slavery and human trafficking, how to report it and the destructiveness of harmful social attitudes and prejudices and social systems in relation to modern slavery and human trafficking
- Government leaders to modern slavery-proof public sector supply chains
- 50 major multi-national businesses whose CEOs are people of faith or of goodwill to commit to modern slavery-proof their supply chains
- 162 governments to publicly endorse the establishment of the Global Fund to End Slavery, with 30 heads of state publicly endorsing it by the end of 2014
- The G20 to condemn modern slavery and human trafficking and adopt an anti-slavery and human trafficking initiative and support the abovementioned Global Fund.
The Joint Statement then concludes:
Our world must be freed of these terrible evils and crimes against humanity. Every hand and heart must be joined to bring this freedom to all those who are trapped and suffering. This agreement is a beginning and a pledge – the victims of modern slavery and human trafficking will not be forgotten or ignored: everyone will know their story. We will walk with them to freedom.
Facts and figures
- Between 9 and 15 million Africans were transported in the transatlantic slave trade before its abolition in the British Empire in 1807.
- An estimated 4 million people were enslaved in the United States before their final emancipation in 1865.
- The Global Slavery Index of the Walk Free Foundation estimates that 29 million people are currently enslaved.
- Modern slavery takes many forms, and is known by many names: slavery, forced labour or human trafficking.
- ‘Slavery’ refers to the condition of treating another person as if they were property – something to be bought, sold, traded or even destroyed.
- ‘Forced labour’ is a related but not identical concept, referring to work taken without consent, by threats or coercion.
- ‘Human trafficking’ is another related concept, referring to the process through which people are brought, through deception, threats or coercion, into slavery, forced labour or other forms of severe exploitation.
- Whatever term is used, the significant characteristic of all forms of modern slavery is that it involves one person depriving another people of their freedom: their freedom to leave one job for another, their freedom to leave one workplace for another, their freedom to control their own body.
- The countries with the highest numbers of enslaved people are India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh.