The Body Shop and ECPAT present one of the largest petitions in the history of the United Nations calling for action to stop sex of trafficking of children and young people.
Embargoed until September 29th 2011, 1.00pm CET. Geneva, 29th September 2011. The Body Shop and ECPAT today presented a petition of over 7 million signatures from all over the world to the President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Ms. Dupuy Lassere calling on governments across the world to take urgent action to stop the sex trafficking of children and young people.
The petition is part of The Body Shop and ECPAT’s ground-breaking campaign to urge governments to do more to protect the 1.2 million children and young people trafficked every year for sexual exploitation. This campaign has already inspired change on an unprecedented scale, leading to 14 countries across the world to commit to adopting new legislation in response to this petition. Countries where governments have already committed to action as a result of the Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People campaign include Malta, Denmark, Portugal, South Africa, Malaysia, Norway, Switzerland, Pakistan, Romania, Taiwan, Ireland, Indonesia, The Philippines and New Zealand.
Receiving the petition, President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Ms. Dupuy Lassere said “This petition represents an historic occasion for the United Nations Human Rights Council to build on the notable successes of the campaign and to inspire governments to join and take action to tackle this crime in its internal and international form and work on prevention and reparation of victims”
The campaign has been active across 65 countries and senior representatives from 35 national governments have accepted campaign petitions and met with representatives from The Body Shop, ECPAT and other local partners, to discuss actions to support those at risk or affected. With over 2.3 million signatures collected in the European Union, the campaign produced the largest human rights petition ever presented to the European Union and has received a number of prestigious awards and secured the support of major opinion formers including President Bill Clinton who described it as “an exemplary approach to addressing a specific global challenge'.
Commenting on today’s event, Christopher Davis, International Campaigns Director for The Body Shop, and winner of the United Nations Business Leaders Award Against Human Trafficking said: “Our success demonstrates that the approach of The Body Shop to campaigning can change the world. By uniting the voices of people calling for social change instead of focussing on short term fundraising activities we know we can inspire governments to take action which creates long term sustainable change. What we have achieved with our campaign so far will create a safer world for children for decades to come.”
Kathleen Speake, Executive Director of ECPAT International added, “Trafficking in children and young people is a grave crime, where offenders have been operating with impunity and where child victims are often criminalised or abandoned without care options. The unprecedented support for ECPAT’s campaign with The Body Shop demonstrates that the world is calling for change, and governments are beginning to listen. Alongside the United Nations Human Rights Council, we will continue our efforts to fight this egregious crime against children, calling for governments to take urgent action and to promote productive multi-stakeholder partnerships”.
In addition to today’s presentation, The Body Shop and ECPAT, with the support of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have hosted an exhibition which tells the story of the campaign and celebrates progress. Praising the campaign, former President of the Human Rights Council, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the UN Office at Geneva, H.E. Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, said “This campaign demonstrates the power of partnerships. When companies join NGO’s and governments we can take action to protect our most vulnerable. I congratulate The Body Shop and ECPAT on their achievements so far”.
The campaign has also made the following specific requests to the Human Rights Council:
1. To encourage Member States of the Human Rights Council to organise an ‘Annual Full Day Meeting’ on the rights of the child, focusing on child trafficking
2. To urge all states to strengthen their national efforts to combat child trafficking, especially in areas of prevention, protection and specialised care services
3. To urge Member States where the campaign has been active to implement the specific campaign calls to action that require urgent attention and follow up
4. To encourage Member States to invite the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking to visit their countries and provide them with adequate assistance
5. To urge Member States to ensure that within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the fulfilment of each Member State’s obligations under the UPR to systematically examine the protection policies that are in place to combat all forms of violence against children, including trafficking.