Emmaus International

thumb 6-assemblee-mondialeSeptember 1988

The 6th world assembly set out policy guidelines for the movement.


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The 6th world assembly held in Verona, Italy, adopted a new set of guidelines and proposals for the movement as a whole. Several organisations from West Africa were invited as observers.


thumb relations-groupes-mouvementThe 1990s

Organisations were set up in Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe. Working relationships were forged between the movement’s member organisations.


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An Emmaus International conference held in Benin in 1989 marked a new start for Emmaus in Africa, following the departure of the Emmaus organisation in Rwanda. The first organisations were located in Benin, near Porto Novo and Cotonou, and in Burkina Faso.


thumb 7-assemblee-mondiale-cologne1992

The 7th world assembly in Cologne, Germany debated under the theme of ‘Shoulder to shoulder with the poor – builders of a global society based on solidarity’.


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With the fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989, Emmaus organisations were set up in Eastern Europe. Representatives were invited as observers to the world assembly, bringing about the creation of more Emmaus organisations in Eastern Europe.


thumb assemblee-mondiale-solidaires-justice1996

World assembly on the theme of “In solidarity for justice”.


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The 8th world assembly of Emmaus International took place at the UNESCO headquarters and adopted two more founding texts. The ‘Emmaus Principles and Membership Charter’ explains the movement’s common objectives, what sets it apart from other organisations, and member organisations’ rights and duties. ‘Solidarity and Political Commitments’ clarifies the movement’s core values, the challenges of the day and puts forward courses of action for change.


thumb emmaus-peut-refaire-le-mondeSeptember 1999

On the theme of ‘Emmaus – we can change the world’, the 9th world assembly called for the political engagement of its member organisations – and of society as a whole.

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The 9th world assembly of Emmaus International marked the movement’s 50th anniversary. The closing statement, ‘Against the globalisation of poverty’, called on every citizen, whether part of “charities and consumer movements, business organizations, unions and political parties” to take responsibility for their actions. Throughout the world, everyone must “fight for a "globalization of brotherhood" […] for an economy that gives a place to the marginalized and the excluded […],  become the actor for an in-depth change of mentalities […] for democracy in the world and against religious, ethnic, or cultural intolerance”.


L’Assemblée mondiale à Ouagadougou marque un tournant important dans l’histoire d’Emmaüs international : elle engage le processus de décentralisation ; à l’issue de débats sur le thème « Ensemble, agir, dénoncer », elle adopte une déclaration finale axée sur l’accès des plus pauvres  aux droits humains fondamentaux2003

The world assembly in Ouagadougou marked an important turning point in Emmaus International’s history as it began the process to decentralise the movement. After debates on the theme of ‘Speaking out and acting together’ it adopted a closing statement focusing on the poor’s access to fundamental rights.

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The 10th world assembly in 2003 in Ouagadougou was of particular importance as it was the first assembly to take place in a country in the global South. It made significant changes to the statutes, emphasised the board’s policy role, set out the regions’ and nations’ roles in the decentralisation process and decided on a new regional distribution.  
The closing statement underlined that throughout the world, people are suffering as a result of not having access to their fundamental rights.
Following the world assembly, three priority areas were adopted, grouping together member organisations’ concrete action and common policy – access to water, ethical finance and the rights of migrants.

thumb mouvement-4-regions2005

The blueprint for the new regional distribution, which was adopted in 2003, came into effect. From that point onwards, the movement consisted of four regions: Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.

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Emmaus International was then organised into four different regions – Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. One of the regions’ main responsibilities is to advocate Emmaus International’s policies to public authorities, such as the European Union in the case of the Europe region. The regions consist of legal entities in one of the countries in the region.


thumb deces-abbe-pierre22 January 2007

Death of Abbé Pierre, founder of the Emmaus movement.

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Henri Grouès, known as Abbé Pierre, died on the morning of 22 January 2007, at the Val-de-Grâce hospital in Paris.
A week was devoted to paying tribute to him in France and in all the Emmaus member organisations worldwide. They mourned the loss of a leading figure in the struggle against poverty. His death was reported in the media worldwide. Three thousand people from many parts of the world gathered at a ceremony at the Paris-Bercy arena on 25 January.  
The religious ceremony was held on 26 January at Notre Dame cathedral and was attended by the French President. According to the family’s wishes, the usual protocol was dispensed with so that Emmaus companions who had come to the funeral from across the world could sit in the first two rows – in front of the highest authorities of the French State. The ceremony was followed by 1,500 companions who sat inside the cathedral, thousands of people gathered outside and millions of television viewers.
Renzo Fior, Chair of Emmaus International urged for people “to continue, throughout the world, the action that began in France in 1949”. As Abbé Pierre wanted, he was buried at a private ceremony at the cemetery in Esteville, Normadie (France) alongside Lucie Coutaz and Georges Legay.


emmaus-legataire-universelOctober 2007

World Assembly in Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina): Emmaus International was legally recognised Abbé Pierre’s sole legatee.

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The world assembly in 2007 took place in Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was the first Emmaus International General Assembly without the Movement’s founder, Abbé Pierre. The world assembly accepted Abbé Pierre’s will which states that Emmaus International is his sole legatee. This status was soon given recognition by the French authorities. A resolution on ‘Together in diversity in the struggle to defend human rights’ and a declaration on freedom of movement were adopted.


thumb emmaus-alternative-monde-difficileMarch 2012

12th world assembly in Anglet, France on the theme of “Emmaus: a credible alternative in a difficult world?!”   

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More than 480 members of the movement from the four regions met up in the French Basque Country. The assembly underscored that solidarity is its core value and is central to all of Emmaus International’s activities.
In its closing statement, ‘A better future is possible', it calls on citizens and society to “Make people our primary concern once again, rethink our lifestyles and consumption […] Demand that everyone have access to basic rights”.


assemblee mondiale 2016The run-up to the next world assembly in 2016

Eight years after Abbé Pierre’s death, the Emmaus movement is still developing. At this point, the movement has chosen to think about what values all its member organisations around the world consider important.

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We are doing this because “continuing our action means bringing back the ethos of Abbé Pierre’s first companions, thinking about how we need to change our action to go with the changes happening in our societies, and rediscovering the value of sharing with the poor”. (Letter addressed to member organisations from Jean Rousseau, Chair of Emmaus International).