Seven years ago, Government leaders undertook a joint commitment to further the protection of children from prostitution, trafficking for sexual purposes, pornography and sex tourism at the 2001 Second World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in Yokohama. The adoption of the Yokohama Global Commitment by participants reaffirmed the global agenda and commitments made at the First World Congress held in Stockholm in 1996, as well as prioritized actions to address specific manifestations of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and sexual abuse of children around the world.
Furthermore, the Governments and NGOs of the East Asia and the Pacific region (EAP) made a unique commitment to take concrete actions against CSEC by adopting the East Asia and Pacific Regional Commitment and Action Plan, through the regional preparatory process for Yokohama. The Commitment and Action Plan contained a formal request for ESCAP and UNICEF, with assistance from ECPAT International, to monitor the implementation of the Stockholm Declaration and Agenda for Action, and a Regional Mid-Term Review Meeting was organized in Bangkok in 2004.
UNESCAP, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) and ECPAT International, which form an Inter-agency Group (IAG), have been working together to prepare the EAP region for the World Congress III against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, which will be hosted by the Government of Brazil, on 25-28 November 2008, in Rio de Janeiro. The World Congress III is an important opportunity to renew global commitment to combating CSEC and to galvanize international will on concrete actions. The EAP Regional Preparatory Meeting will mirror the structure and process of the World Congress at the regional level, providing regional stakeholders with an opportunity to assess progress and review emerging trends in order to refine conceptual and practical tools for combating CSEC at national, regional and global levels. It will also allow for the articulation of achievable targets that can be monitored and supported throughout the review period, so that there are more focused and concerted efforts by various stakeholders against CSEC.
Overall, the objectives of the East Asia and Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting are to:
1. Examine new challenges and dimensions of commercial sexual exploitation of children and set more targeted strategies and measures to address CSEC, building on current progress;
2. Examine what works in different parts of the region, including good practices and identify channels to facilitate better exchange of experiences;
3. Open channels and secure greater regional/international cooperation on key issues related to CSEC (including cross-border issues) and also inter-regional cooperation;
4. Catalyze a systemic and multi-sectoral approach to guarantee children’s and adolescents’ right to be protected from sexual exploitation; and
5. Identify time-bound goals for each of the themes of the Congress (see below).
The Meeting will focus on manifestations of CSEC which are of particular growing importance in the region:
1) child prostitution and its relation to gender dynamics;
2) child trafficking for sexual purposes and its inter-linkages with migration; and
3) child sex tourism and associations with corporations and industry.
Past, present and future challenges with regards to these three manifestations will be discussed within the context of the five World Congress themes:
1) Commercial sexual exploitation of children: Changing manifestations and mechanisms for meeting ongoing and new challenges (e.g. trafficking of children for sexual exploitation, sexual exploitation of children in prostitution and tourism, and child pornography and internet crimes against children via new technologies).
2) Legal framework and enforcement: Including revisions of laws related to sexual exploitation of children; implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography; impunity and responsibility; and procedures for special investigations.
3) Integrated inter-agency policies: Focusing on the building of inter-sectoral public policies, cooperation between different government levels, integration with the justice system, and the role of training agencies.
4) Initiatives of social responsibility: Including the market and self-regulation of the private sector, the role of global financial systems and new initiatives in the promotion of rights, good business practices, private initiative and public policies.
5) Strategies for international cooperation: Including multilateral and regional mechanisms for fighting CSEC, measures for countering cross border crimes, systems of information, experience of international agencies and organizations, and monitoring and evaluating progress in relation to previous Congresses. The Rapporteur for the World Congress III, Mr. Jaap Doek, former Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, will consolidate contributions from the various regions for the World Congress III Outcome Document. This will provide a statement on priority actions to be taken which reflects inputs from the worldwide processes on key thematic areas, and recommend a global set of specific time-bound targets.