UNWTO recognizes sexual exploitation of children with new convention
At the recent UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly meeting in Chengu, China, Member States pledged to work towards the universal adoption of a new Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics, which includes provisions for reducing the sexual exploitation of children in the travel industry.
The convention converts the Global Code of Ethics into a more binding international legal instrument that will advance the ethical components of tourism. It provides a framework for an ethical and sustainable modus operandi – including the right to tourism, freedom of movement for tourists and the rights of employees and professionals. It will also enforce efforts to protect vulnerable groups, such as children – and ensure tourism is environmentally sustainable.
“The expansion of the travel and tourism sector has multiple economic and social benefits,” said Dorothy Rozga, Executive Director of ECPAT, a global NGO that fights the sexual exploitation of children. “Unfortunately, this expansion has also increased opportunities for perpetrators who harm children by sexually exploiting them.”
“The convention, which I urge all Member States to ratify and agree to, addresses many of the most important issues and problems in the global travel and tourism,” she said.
Rozca cited the recent Global Study by ECPAT, which showed that the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT) has expanded across the globe and out-paced every attempt to respond at the international and national level. “No region is untouched by this crime and no country is immune,” she said.
“In an interconnected world where the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles, it is important to set out a legal framework to ensure that growth is dealt with responsibly and that it can be sustained over time. Tourism is a power that must be harnessed for the benefit of all,” said Chairman of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (WCTE) Pascal Lamy.
“This is an historic moment for UNWTO”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “The approval of the Convention is a strong legacy of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development that we celebrate this year. It is also a strong sign that countries are committed to make tourism a force for a better future for all. It reinforces UNWTO’s institutional outreach in the UN system.”