Emmaus International

premiere rencontre mondiale1963 - 1969

In preparation for their first global meeting, Abbé Pierre visited all the Emmaus organisations around the world.

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After the shipwreck, Abbé Pierre became acutely aware he was the only person who knew about all the Emmaus organisations around the world. Convinced of the need to unite them, between 1963 and 1969 he travelled extensively to meet them to prepare for the first general assembly of the world’s Emmaus organisations. In particular, he wanted to discuss the content of an important document, which was to become the Emmaus movement’s universal manifesto.


premiere assemblee mondiale berne1969

70 Emmaus organisations from 20 different countries met for the first world assembly in Berne, where they adopted the universal manifesto.

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The first world assembly of Emmaus was held in Berne, Switzerland from 24 – 25 May 1969 with 70 Emmaus organisations from 20 different countries and four continents (Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe).
It adopted the universal manifesto, one of the movement’s so-called “founding texts”, which are often referred to as they explain the movement’s objectives and values.

The second important decision the assembly made was to entrust the international movement of Emmaus to an interim committee for a duration of two years. Lastly, it set up an international secretariat whose purpose was to “strengthen the ties between the different groups, coordinate their efforts and document all the issues they are facing in order to find an effective solution for members of society who are suffering most”.


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The world assembly in Montreal set up Emmaus International.


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The world assembly in Montreal set up Emmaus International.      
In 1971, 120 organisations attended the world assembly held in Montreal, Canada. Ninety-five of them, from 20 countries and four continents, adopted the statutes of “EMMAUS INTERNATIONAL, an international, non-governmental, non profit-making, contractual association” whose purpose was to “carry on with the action started in 1949”.


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On Emmaus’s 25th anniversary, the movement reiterated its commitment and independence from all ideologies.

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Emmaus International’s third world assembly coincided with the movement’s 25th anniversary. In preparation for the event, in 1972 the executive committee sent all the members a document entitled ‘Emmaus: Past and Future’ and a survey to try to determine what characterised the movement.
The world assembly emphasised a key principle laid out in the manifesto: “Each and everybody’s freedom of personal commitment on a denominational, philosophical and political level.” The movement reiterated its total independence from any outside ideology and that it would continue to keep its doors open to anyone in need.
The assembly also organised the movement into nine regions: Africa; North America; South America; Asia and Far East Asia; Asia and India/Bangladesh; the Middle East (Lebanon); Northern Europe, France, and other European countries.


La représentativité des élus est améliorée et le texte « Ampleurs et limites de l’engagement social d’Emmaüs » est ratifié1979

More regional representatives were elected and the ‘Scope and Limits of Emmaus’s Social Commitment’ text was adopted.

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The fourth world assembly in Denmark in October 1979 revised the statutes, clarifying the role of the regions and increasing the number of their representatives.
The assembly adopted the text ‘Scope and Limits of Emmaus’s Social Commitment’, which made clear the position of Emmaus which “will always be in conflict with those who, consciously or unconsciously, are the cause of [….] suffering". Every member organisation can commit itself to “a particular option”, whether political or religious, but it must “clearly specify in public that this is a special choice, peculiar to this group and not the commitment of the Movement as a whole.” These principles are still relevant today, especially given the increasing diversity of the situations in which Emmaus organisations are working.


thumb 5-assemblee-mondiale1984

The 5th world assembly was held near Namur in Belgium and focused on Emmaus's topical issues.

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At the time of the world assembly in 1984, the unemployment crisis was beginning to unfold. In his opening address, Abbé Pierre asked how all the free time brought about by unemployment could be put to good use, and on the role Emmaus could play in the circumstances.
Albert Tévoédjrè, of the Geneva International Labour Office, also presented his book, Pauvreté, richesse des peuples (Poverty, wealth and peoples).