Wien/Rio de Janeiro, 26. November 2008 Press release

"Children are not a commodity – concerted action against the sexual exploitation of children"

Third World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Vienna/Rio de Janeiro, 26 November 2008 – "The protection of children against sexual exploitation is one of the major challenges we are facing worldwide, both in terms of peace policy and human rights," emphasised the head of the Austrian delegation, Ambassador Dr. Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, at the World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children. According to a UN survey 1.8 million children are exploited through prostitution and pornography, and 1.2 million children fall victim to human trafficking every year.

"We must fight this cruel crime together at the global level," stated the head of the Austrian delegation to the World Congress, which focuses on new developments in the sexual exploitation of children and offers the opportunity to engage in a practical exchange of opinions and promote the implementation of concrete activities to combat these crimes.

"The Austrian federal government considers measures for the protection of children against sexual exploitation to be of utmost priority," reported Tichy-Fisslberger in her opening speech. Austria, for instance, has signed all important legal instruments in this respect and has ratified most of them. The Austrian action plan against human trafficking, which was elaborated by the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs and adopted by the federal government in March 2007, takes into account the rights and specific needs of children in fighting child trafficking, child prostitution and pornography. The activities pursued by the Task Force against Human Trafficking, established under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry, are particularly aimed at the protection of children. At the Austrian preparatory conference held in Vienna in October 2008, various approaches were discussed to safeguard the protection of children in Austria.

The World Congress, which is being held for the third time, is being attended by over 2,000 representatives of governments, international organisations, leading NGOs and the Internet industry. This year’s Congress is particularly marked by a strong participation of young people. A representative of ECPAT’s Youth Advisory Council is also a member of the official Austrian delegation. "For the Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs the participation of young people is a decisive prerequisite for a successful outcome of the Congress. Young people can better identify with one another because they are of the same age. Their contribution is particularly decisive in the field of prevention and combating exploitation," concluded Tichy-Fisslberger.

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