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International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF)

Type of Organisation

Non- Governmental and Other Organisations

Former Name(s)

  • (1900) International Council of Unitarian and other Liberal Religious Thinkers and Workers
  • (1910) International Congress of Free Christians and other Religious Liberals
  • (1930) International Association for Liberal Christianity and Religious Freedom.


Work for freedom of religion and belief because it is a precious human right that potentially enables the best within our religious lives, or our search for truth or enlightenment, to flourish.


The International Association for Religious Freedom, or IARF, is the oldest international interfaith organisation. Its history spans the 20th century and reflects many of the difficult issues that confronted religious leaders and scholars during that tumultuous period, particularly in Europe and in the United States. The IARF began in 1900 on May 25th in Boston, Massachusetts at the 75th anniversary meeting of the American Unitarian Association.

Website, Languages


  • English

Office Location(s)

IRD Activities


In Israel, IARF's member group Interfaith Encounter Association has worked with IARF...More's funding since 2011 to devise path-breaking programs of encounter – such as the cutting-edge focus on religious leaders, the Jerusalem-Hebron Religious Leaders Forum, and the Yeshiva-based student encounters, where rabbis with whom IEA has been working have introduced the idea of extending the religious leaders project by bringing encounters into Yeshivot (Jewish religious academies) to include those who study in these institutions; — Israel;Less

Interfaith Village Project, Philippines 'Building Multifaith Village Livelihoods'

This program is built on the Dutch government-funded Human Rights Education programm...Moree from 2004 to 2007, which also supported work in Philippines. IARF continued funding work in several locations based on the idea of co-operative livelihood upliftment in multi-faith community settings; — Philippines;Less

Towards an Affirmation of Religious Freedom and Responsibility

The project's objective was to enhance the standards of practice of religious commun...Moreities with a view to safeguarding their own members, the followers of other religions, and society as a whole; — Bangladesh - India - Nepal - Pakistan - Sri Lanka - Austria - Czechia - Denmark - Finland - France - Germany - Hungary - Israel - Macedonia - Netherlands - Poland - Romania - Russian Federation - Switzerland - UK - Canada - USA - China - Japan - Philippines - Australia - Bahrain - Ghana - Kenya - Malawi - Nigeria - South Africa;Less

Religious Freedom Young Adult Network

The network organises conferences, pilgrimages, trainings, and interfaith programmes...More and projects; — USA - Japan - Hungary - India - Philippines - Burundi - Nepal;Less

Inter-Religious Consultations for Creating Educational Strategies to Maintain and Promote Conditions for Supporting Freedom of Religion or Belief

IARF initiated a series of four workshops/consultations to carry forward the recomme...More ndations of the important UN International Consultative Conference held in Madrid in 2001 on School Education in Relation with Freedom of Religion and Belief, Tolerance and Non-Discrimination; — Switzerland - India - South Africa - Costa Rica; Less


IARF's first chapter in Africa began work in 2013, giving emphasis to interfaith enc... More ounter in the context of insurgent religion-based terrorism, and to the development of Human Rights Education in faith-based community contexts; — Kenya.Less

Main Focus Countries of Activities

Bangladesh - India - Nepal - Pakistan - Sri Lanka - Austria - Czechia - Denmark - Finland - France - Germany - Hungary - Israel - Macedonia - Netherlands - Poland - Romania - Russian Federation - Switzerland - UK - Canada - USA - China - Japan - Philippines - Australia - Bahrain - Ghana - Kenya - Malawi - Nigeria - South Africa

Religious Affiliation

No information


  • Conflict Resolution and Transformation (Information Distribution)
  • Conflict Resolution and Transformation (Advocacy)
  • Conflict Resolution and Transformation (Networking)
  • Peace and Reconciliation (Information Distribution)
  • Peace and Reconciliation (Advocacy)
  • Peace and Reconciliation (Networking)
  • Freedom of Expression (Information Distribution)
  • Freedom of Expression (Networking)
  • Freedom of Religion or Belief (Information Distribution)
  • Freedom of Religion or Belief (Capacity Building and Empowerment)
  • Freedom of Religion or Belief (Advocacy)
  • Freedom of Religion or Belief (Networking)
  • Democracy, Social Cohesion and Citizenship (Information Distribution)
  • Environment (Information Distribution)
  • Interreligious Dialogue (Information Distribution)
  • Interreligious Dialogue (Capacity Building and Empowerment)
  • Interreligious Dialogue (Advocacy)
  • Interreligious Dialogue (Networking)
  • Intra-Religious Dialogue (Information Distribution)
  • Intercultural Dialogue (Information Distribution)
  • Youth (Information Distribution)
  • Youth (Advocacy)
  • Youth (Networking)
  • Women’s Rights (Information Distribution)
  • Migration of Migrants (Information Distribution)
  • Migration of Refugees (Capacity Building and Empowerment)

Last Update

More information on International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF)

Understanding of Interreligious Dialogue

Fostering dialogue and partnership between people of different faiths and ideologies and recognising the cultural identities of people and promoting cultural renewal.


World Council of YMCAs; Executive Committee; Secretary General; Officers: President, Vice President and Treasurer; Members of the World Alliance of YMCAs

General Activities

  • Empowering Young People. At all continents of the world, the YMCA is working to empower young people and to transform communities with an embedded change model of SPACE | TRANSFORMATION | IMPACT. This model is a common DNA in our activities and that's why being part of the YMCA is a life changing experience;
  • Global Operating Plan. Realising that the YMCA family has a treasure of knowledge and good practice, human and financial resources that can be shared and multiplied, the World Alliance developed the Global Operating Plan (GOP) for Movement Strengthening to help YMCAs grow stronger and more relevant. GOP serves as a guide and offers a co-ordinated approach to the international co-operation work of the YMCA. GOP encourages YMCAs to work hand in hand with other partners, rather than doing things alone. The multilateral platform provided by GOP is a meaningful way of addressing problems from the past, like overlapping efforts, dependency and intransparency that may occur in only bilateral relationships between YMCAs;
  • Responding to Emergencies. Because of their rootedness in local communities, YMCAs are well placed to quickly and efficiently respond in emergency situations such as natural disasters and civil conflicts. YMCAs provide immediate assistance to affected communities such as food, shelter, medicine, and trauma counselling. They relate closely with other international and local NGOs to ensure that their efforts are co-ordinated. YMCAs also continue working with affected communities throughout the rehabilitation process, providing education, training, and psycho-social support;4.YMCA Change Agents:The YMCA Change Agent programme is a global leadership development programme to empower young leaders as change makers in their own communities.YMCA Change Agents are young volunteers and/or staff from YMCAs across the world who strengthen the YMCA so the YMCA can serve more young people. They participate in innovative and life changing experiences including online and face-to-face trainings, mentoring and local project development for expansion of youth services. They gain skills to help transform their YMCA and community and they build connections to an international network of other young leaders; 5.Innovation Camp:The YMCA Innovation Camp brings together leaders from the movement to have intensive training around successful youth empowerment programmes with the view to implement them in their local YMCAs. This event provides participants an opportunity to learn about their chosen innovation and start a journey that aims to see long term impact in local and national YMCAs.Each participant returns home to implement their innovation in their community and country. Again, the overall goal is to empower more young people in local communities;6.World YMCA Staff Placements:The World YMCA offers YMCA staff from across the globe the opportunity to join the World YMCA office in Geneva on a short-term placement.Staff Placements work on specific projects within the OUR WAY strategy: youth empowerment, movement strengthening, resource mobilisation, and communications;7.Global Youth Research – One Million Voices 2:The first YMCA global research – YMCA One Million Voices – released its findings in 2015. Sixty national YMCAs contributed to what we believe is the world’s largest ever research of 15-24 year olds. The results highlight young people’s critical needs in the areas of employment, health and civic engagement.Ongoing research is an important part of OUR WAY strategy. The next One Million Voices research was developed, piloted and announced in 2016. It will be launched in February 2017 to all national movement s and the results released in 2018. Importantly, this research is qualitative and will build on and support the quantitative results from the first research.


  • 2002: World Council Meeting, Oaxtepec, Mexico
  • 2006: World Council Meeting, Durban, South Africa
  • 2010: World Council Meeting, Hong Kong, China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
  • 2018: World Council Meeting, Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • 2019:YMCA175, London, UK


  • "YMCA World" (2010, periodical)
  • "Playbook" (2014, periodical)
  • "Our WAY Strategy - Plan for the Future" (2014, periodical)
  • "World YMCA News" (2013, periodical)
  • "Annual Report" (2013, periodical)
  • "Global Citizenship and Social Movements – A YMCA Perspective" (2011)


  • 6 full-time employees
  • 4 part-time employees


2013: Total income CHF 3,524,514; Regular budget: contributions of member movements on the basis of a scale determined by the World Council. Other programmes: special appeals.