OUr Journey

The Declaration

The Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery is a landmark document which demonstrates the commitment by faith and spiritual leaders from the world’s biggest religions to the common cause to eradicate modern slavery in all its forms.

The inaugural signing was in 2014, in a world-first event at Casina Pio IV in Vatican City, coordinated and initiated by the Global Freedom Network.

The event was historic not only for its definitive commitment to work across religions to eradicate modern slavery, but also because it was possibly the first time ever that these faith leaders had met as a group, unified in a common cause, signing their names on the same document.

It was the first time since the establishment of the Catholic Church that the Pope had met with a Grand Ayatollah in person. And it was the first time since the Reformation that the Catholic Church and Anglican Communion had reached an agreement on a global initiative.

Furthermore, it was a rare joint initiative between Sunni and Shia Muslim leaders. They were joined by leaders from many countries of the world, representing the business, political and civil sectors.

The event included the powerful voice of survivors whose lived experience provides crucial guidance and expertise to the Global Freedom Network.

The declaration is contained in a leather-bound book which has now been signed by 110 faith leaders representing their faiths and religious orders.



Select year
february 2023
Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia
Global Freedom Network met with the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa to discuss a signing event of the Religious Leaders Joint Declaration against Modern Slavery, under the auspices of His Eminence Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, CM.
february 2023
African Union Summit
The Head of Global Freedom Network, Franca Pellegrini, was invited by the African Union Youth Envoy to participate on a forum on the sidelines of the African Union Summit. She presented on the work of Global Freedom Network and the role youth play in ending modern slavery.
february 2022
Pontifical Gregorian University conference in Rome
Global Freedom Network partnered with the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome for a special two-day conference on the role of religion in eradicating modern slavery. This partnership examined international and local perspectives and practices and brought together leading academics, faith leaders, and civil society members to discuss modern slavery and how religious groups can help prevent it.
february 2022
Australian Embassy to the Holy See Event in Rome
Her Excellency Ambassador Chiara Porro, Australia’s representative to the Holy See, hosted a special Global Freedom Network event with diplomatic representatives to the Vatican from around the world. This event fostered an understanding of modern slavery and the global challenge that we face in combatting it, and generated valuable discussion about how we can cooperate to bring international influence to bear in the fight against this abuse of human rights.
march 2023
Western Australia faith leaders meeting
Global Freedom Network, in partnership with the Perth Archdiocese of the Anglican Church, hosted a group of multi-denominational faith leaders to discuss the creation of a specific profile of the Faith For Freedom app for Western Australia. Global Freedom Network is now working with a group of faith leaders to create a specific profile for Western Australia, which will serve as a template to develop similar resources for the other Australian states and territories.
march 2022
Declaration signing in South Africa
South African religious leaders gathered at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg — the site of the imprisonment of many human rights activists and now the location of the country’s Constitutional Court. They endorsed the declaration in a ceremony where it was acknowledged that poverty and inequality were driving forces of many forms of modern slavery.
march 2022
Declaration signing in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Faith leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo gathered in Kinshasa where they committed to fighting modern slavery in their country. It was acknowledged that extreme challenges faced many DRC citizens who may feel like submitting to extreme exploitation such as modern slavery was their only option. However, the positive and powerful influence of faith and faith leaders was a vital force that could protect congregations from modern slavery, especially with support and cooperation.
march 2022
Declaration signing in Kenya
In a landmark event with the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, faith leaders came together to agree to do what was in their power to fight modern slavery in their country. The ICRK’s tradition of interfaith cooperation was hailed as a model for tackling such tough problems which affect communities stricken by inequality and poverty. The gathering heard that faith leaders were uniquely suited for the battle against modern slavery.
march 2017
Declaration signing in Indonesia
Seven religious leaders representing all religions constitutionally admitted in Indonesia — Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism — endorsed the declaration at Indonesia’s Vice Presidential Palace, Merdeka Selatan, Jakarta.
april 2024
Western Australian version of Faith For Freedom app officially launched
“Today marks the long-awaited launch of the Faith For Freedom app in Western Australia, where Walk Free has its origins,” said Walk Free’s Head of the Global Freedom Network Franca Pellegrini. “The WA profile of the app offers an array of resources for faith leaders and other stakeholders, including case studies, definitions, prayers, support hotlines and the latest statistics from Walk Free’s pioneering research on modern slavery. We see faith leaders as playing a vital role in fighting modern slavery because faith leaders are in a unique position to see into the hearts of their communities.”
Faith leaders, an Australian Federal Police representative and Global Freedom Network team members at the forced marriage training at Wollaston Theological College, 8 May.
may 2023
Faith leader forced marriage training in Perth
Global Freedom Network organised a networking event and training session on forced marriage for faith leaders in Western Australia. The training was delivered by Anti-Slavery Australia and taught participants how to identify and support people affected by forced marriage in Australia, how to access specialist referral pathways and what they can do to help prevent this issue within their families and communities.
june 2022
Anti-trafficking poster campaign in Ghana
Global Freedom Network collaborated with Ghana’s Anti Human Trafficking Unit and a national transport union to roll out a poster campaign across Ghana. The posters were placed on public buses that run across Ghana and went to destinations in neighbouring countries and in stations to inform travellers of the police phone number to report suspicions of human trafficking, encouraging people to call if they or someone they knew were a potential victim of this crime.
july 2022
New partnership agreements signed
Global Freedom Network launched partnerships with Compassion International and the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya to enhance our reach across Africa.
july 2023
Poster campaign in places of worship
Global Freedom Network designed posters, flyers, and social media posts to raise awareness of forced marriage and forced labour risks in Ghana. Through the Federation of Faith Leaders and local faith partners, we brought those messages to the attention of community members. More than 5000 posters were printed and distributed around Ghana.
august 2021
Launch of the Faith For Freedom phone app
The Faith For Freedom smartphone app was launched, bringing a modern tool against an age-old problem. The app, which was developed in consultation with a special faith leaders advisory panel, gives faith leaders and their staff invaluable advice on how to identify, respond to, and prevent modern slavery within their congregations.
august 2021
Declaration signing in Ghana
A coalition of 14 faith leaders from many of the world’s biggest religions united for the first African signing of the declaration. The location, in the Ghanaian capital Accra, was poignant because it was the site of such inhumanity during the Transatlantic slave trade hundreds of years earlier. The event was attended by religious leaders from Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria, as well as government and law enforcement officials.
august 2018
Declaration signing in Colombia
A historic event was held in Medellin, Colombia, where eight religious leaders signed the declaration at a Global Freedom Network event organised in collaboration with the Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano (CELAM). The religious leaders united to commit to eradicating modern slavery through spiritual and practical actions.
october 2022
Visit to Africa and launch of GEMS
The Global Freedom Network team undertook an engagement trip across Africa to have conversations with stakeholders in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, and Ghana. In Kenya we also used the opportunity to host two programme days with the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya in Nairobi and Mombasa and introduce our partnership, the goals and upcoming activities to a range of faith leaders, and faith-based and community organisations. In Ghana, we hosted a high-level meeting to review the activities of the Federation of Faith Leaders including the Cross-Border Awareness campaign and the recent launch of the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery report and how this information relates to Ghana.
october 2022
Government Engagement Workshops in Africa
In Kenya (Nairobi and Mombasa) South Africa, and Ghana, Global Freedom Network delivered four Government Engagement Workshops for faith leaders to build on their public policy skills and teach them how to engage with state actors on human rights issues.
Synod 2
october 2023
Perth Anglican Synod
Global Freedom Network had a display at the annual Perth Anglican Synod. Synod is an opportunity for Anglican clergy and laypeople to gather and consider the mission of the church, discuss issues of doctrine and vote on motions. Rev. Gemma Baseley raised a successful motion to recognise modern slavery as an issue that all Anglican leaders should respond to, including by receiving training from Walk Free.
november 2021
Modern slavery curriculum at University of Notre Dame
We collaborated with University of Notre Dame Australia who created curriculum on modern slavery for their students. The Graduate Diploma and Certificate on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking is based on the belief that every student should learn about human rights and modern slavery and be empowered to put an end to the exploitation of vulnerable people.
november 2018
Declaration signing in New Zealand
HRH Queen Nanasipau’u of Tonga, together with senior church leaders from 12 Pacific islands gathered in Auckland to sign the declaration and mark the launching of the Pacific Freedom Network. The event occurred alongside the Pacific Conference of Churches’ General Assembly, a gathering of leaders and key representatives from across the Pacific.
november 2017
Declaration signing in Argentina
In Buenos Aires, ten religious leaders from the major faiths in Argentina, including the Catholic Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church, the Evangelical faith, the Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish communities, the Sikh Dharma Community and the Argentinean Islamic Community, came together alongside the national government to pledge their opposition to modern slavery.
november 2023
Global Slavery Index spotlight event at the Vatican
Walk Free and Global Freedom hosted the Global Slavery Index 2023 spotlight event at Vatican City. More than 80 delegates from across the world gathered at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences’ historic Casina Pio IV. The forum discussed how modern slavery undermines global development. Modern slavery survivors were front and centre to share their lived experiences and proposed solutions.
december 2019
Grace Forrest speaks at the Catholic Youth Festival
Walk Free founding director, Grace Forrest, addressed the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Perth, telling approximately 6000 young delegates about Global Freedom Network’s role in helping bring faith leaders together in the shared cause against modern slavery. Walk Free experts also took part in a panel on conscious consumerism and engaged with participants through hands-on discussions about modern slavery.
december 2015
Declaration signing in India
Eight Indian religious and spiritual leaders signed from the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jain, Bahá’í and Jewish religions — representing more than 95 per cent of the Indian population — signed the declaration. Religious leaders and modern slavery experts discussed the eradication of bonded and forced labour in India.
december 2015
Declaration signing in Australia
Australian faith leaders signed the declaration at Parliament House in Canberra, in an initiative led by the Salvation Army with the support and endorsement of the Global Freedom Network. Christian Evangelical, Baptist, Salvation Army, Presbyterian, Coptic Orthodox, Anglican, Catholic, Muslim Sunni and Shia, Lutheran, Jewish, Hindu, Quakers, Uniting Church, and Buddhist leaders took part.
december 2014
Inaugural Declaration signing
Global leaders from the Christian, Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox religions, as well as Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim faiths signed the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery at Casina Pio IV in Vatican City. This world-first event marked the beginning of the Global Freedom Network.