The idea of creating a truly global movement was pioneered by Henry Dunant, Secretary of YMCA Geneva, who would later go on to found the International Committee of the Red Cross and win the first Nobel Peace Prize. Henry Dunant successfully convinced YMCA Paris to organise the first YMCA World Conference.

The Conference took place in August 1855, bringing together 99 young delegates from nine countries. The Conference adopted the Paris Basis, affirming the founding ‘first principle’ of YMCA’s global mission and purpose.

“The Young Men’s Christian Associations seek to unite those1 who, regarding Jesus Christ as their God and Saviour, according to the Holy Scriptures, desire to be his disciples in their faith and in their life, and to associate their efforts for the extension of his Kingdom amongst young people.

Any differences of opinion on other subjects, however important in themselves, shall not interfere with the harmonious relations of the constitute members and associates of the World Alliance. ”

The Paris Basis, 1855

1 ‘original stated ‘young men’