Sexual exploitation of children and adolescents cannot be solved by any single nation or organisation working alone. Coordinated international action by governments, international organisations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and communities worldwide is needed to counter these violations against children.
Following the 1996 Stockholm and 2001 Yokohama global forums, Brazil will host the World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 25-28 November 2008.
Congress organisers – The Government of Brazil, UNICEF, ECPAT International, and the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child – and partners believe that the World Congress III is an important opportunity to renew global commitment, and to galvanise international will and support to combat sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.
Mobilise all countries to guarantee the rights of children and adolescents to be protected from sexual exploitation and abuse by taking action to:
• Build on current achievements, examine new challenges and dimensions of sexual exploitation and set more targeted strategies and measures to address them;
• Examine what works in different regions and identify channels to facilitate better exchange of experiences;
• Open channels and secure greater international cooperation on key issues (including cross-border and inter-regional cooperation);
• Catalyse a systemic and inter-sector approach to guarantee children and adolescents´ right to be protected from sexual exploitation; and
• Establish time-bound goals to promote and monitor progress on the themes addressed by the Congress.
The following five key themes will be addressed at the World Congress:
Theme 1: New Dimensions of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children;
Theme 2: Legal Frameworks and Enforcement;
Theme 3: Integrated Inter-Sectoral Policies;
Theme 4: Role of the Private Sector and Corporate Social Responsibility; and
Theme 5: Strategies for International Cooperation.
National Working Groups will review progress made since Yokohama 2001 and identify positive national experiences and challenges relevant to the Congress themes. Several pre-Congress regional consultative meetings will be held in various regions of the world. Their outcome proposals will be a major contribution to the Congress. Special efforts will be made to ensure the meaningful presence and participation of children and adolescents before, during and after the Congress.
The Fight against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
Global efforts to combat commercial sexual exploitation of children began more than a decade ago with a campaign that drew the world’s attention to the problem.
NGOs around the world started to collect and share information to raise awareness of the problem, propose action needed and call on governments to take strong action. UNICEF, the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ECPAT International and the Government of Sweden worked successfully to co-organise the First World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children that was held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1996.
1996 Stockholm First World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
The Congress focused world attention on commercial sexual exploitation of children, which was largely unrecognised at the time. It mobilised support from a broad range of stakeholders (governments, NGOs, children, civil society groups, academics, police and many others) and generated political momentum.
This event had several unique elements, including the joint presence and participation of NGOs with government representatives, which broke away from the structure of NGO parallel or side meetings. Most importantly, it included the participation of children and young people, further adding to the groundbreaking nature of the Stockholm Congress.
Since the First World Congress, the Declaration and Agenda for Action have become essential tools for mobilising and monitoring action to protect children from sexual exploitation.
2001 Yokohama Second World Congress
In 2001, a Second World Congress was held in Yokohama, Japan to review progress made on protecting children against sexual exploitation.
The 2001 Congress strengthened and consolidated worldwide partnerships made since the First World Congress, and reinforced global commitment to protect children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. It also provided extensive and more in-depth knowledge and experience on different aspects of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Among the agreed outcomes were the necessity to tackle both supply and demand taken together as a means of combating CSEC effectively and the importance of child and youth participation.
2004-2005 Mid-Term Review
Following the Second World Congress, Mid-Term Review meetings were organised for the first time in each region from 2004 - 2005.
These assessments demonstrated consistent trends across regions, for example, positive moves to amend or enact new laws to protect children from different forms of sexual exploitation. However, these developments have not been matched by improving application of the law or providing care for child survivors.
Recognising that governments and other actors have many competing agendas that can draw their attention away from the more complex social problems that require long-term engagement, resources and support, those actively working to combat commercial sexual exploitation of children have underscored the importance of maintaining government attention and action on the issue.
For more information about the history of ECPAT and the World Congresses, see The Road to Rio, by Ron O’Grady, a Founder of ECPAT and Board member of ECPAT NZ. more…