Global Youth Summit Unites 500+ Youth from 77 Countries to Champion Freedom of Religion or Belief

Worldwide – October 18, 2023 – A groundbreaking worldwide event is set to take place from October 19-20, 2023: the Global Youth Summit on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB). This unique summit will see more than 500 young participants from 77 different countries, across six continents, and from dozens of spiritual backgrounds come together. Freedom of Religion or Belief stands as a cornerstone of global human rights, fostering diverse societies and peaceful coexistence.

Co-convened by a coalition of leading organizations in the FoRB space, including the International Freedom of Religion or Belief Alliance (IRFBA), Boat People SOS, Search for Common Ground, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and the First Freedom Foundation, the summit provides a global platform for young voices. These voices hail from diverse spiritual backgrounds and are eager to connect, collaborate, and co-create a future of freedom of religion or belief for all.

Patrice Pederson, Chair of the Planning Committee and President of the First Freedom Foundation, commented on the timeliness and significance of the summit: “With the fresh conflict between Israel and Hamas, Azerbaijan’s invasion of Artsakh and potential further incursions into Armenia, and Turkey’s assaults against the one bright spot for religious freedom in NE Syria, the global community is in dire need of hope. But the sheer quantity of applications to this event that land in my inbox daily reignites my hope for our world’s future. The fire in these young souls to make a difference is truly inspiring.”

From Nigeria, one youth applicant  wrote “Freedom of Religion is important to me because my belief is my identity, and I don’t want to identify with fear.” Another from Iraq said, “I come from a region which is home to several ancient religious beliefs, yet the lack of religious freedom has been costly to the social cohesion as well as stability. In a polarizing environment, one faces discrimination, no matter how dominant your religion is. Thus, as a member of the public, I believe the reduced religious friction would help everyone, including myself, to live in harmony and peace together without resorting to violence.”

Support for the summit echoes from various influential figures in the FoRB community. Nadine Maenza, Chair of the IRF Secretariat, described the summit as a pivotal moment in the movement, saying, “It’s not every day that we witness a seismic shift in our movement. The Global Youth Summit for FoRB promises to be just that, channeling the promise and passion of our youth.”

In recent years, the world has witnessed an alarming rise in violations of freedom of religion or belief. From the chilling reports of Uyghurs in China facing severe repression and internment, to the heart-wrenching plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, subjected to a brutal genocide. The alarming incidents in India, where both Christians and Muslims are victims of mob violence and lynching, and Nigeria’s heart-breaking episodes of entire Christian villages being set ablaze, further underscore this global urgency. These situations are not isolated; they underscore a global urgency. This summit becomes critically important as a space to address such issues, share insights, and work towards lasting solutions. With participants hailing from these affected regions and beyond, the summit aims not only to highlight these concerns but also to amplify the voices of those directly impacted, ensuring their narratives drive the discourse. In doing so, the Global Youth Summit for FoRB paves the way for a future where freedom of religion and belief is upheld as an inalienable human right.

While the media is not invited to participate directly in the summit to ensure an open and safe environment for the attendees, young participants and members of the planning committee are available for interviews.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact:

Jacob Householder


About the Co-sponsoring Organizations:

The Global Youth Summit for FoRB is a collaborative effort among leading organizations in the field of Freedom of Religion or Belief. The First Freedom Foundation operates as an incubator/accelerator, equipping FoRB advocates with tools, training, and financial support. Other key collaborators include IRFBA, a 43-nation alliance dedicated to FoRB; Boat People SOS, an organization supporting refugees and promoting civil society; Search for Common Ground, the largest peacebuilding organization in the world; and Christian Solidarity Worldwide, an organization advocating for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights.