World Congress Against Child Sexual Exploitation
19 December 2001 Speech Notes
- New Zealand Statement at
the Second World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual
Exploitation of Children
- Pacifico Yokohama Conference Centre
The commercial sexual exploitation of children is one of the most abhorrent crimes that can be committed. As well as involving the sexual abuse of a child, this type of exploitation treats children as a commodity that can be bought and sold.
Every child who suffers from abuse and exploitation has their right to childhood stolen from them. The consequence of this abuse may be that they do not go on to lead a rewarding and dignified life. To realise their dreams and goals as adults, children need a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow. New Zealand believes that there is no greater task than providing for the happy, healthy development of children. Our children are priceless.
New Zealand is here at the Second World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children to renew our commitment to protecting the fundamental rights of children and work with other States towards the goal of eliminating the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
In New Zealand, we are continuing our efforts to protect and promote the rights of our children and youth. We are developing an Agenda for Children as well as a Youth Development Strategy in order to set goals and provide a firm structure for government policies and programmes in this area. Consistent with the Yokohama Declaration, which calls for greater participation by children and young people in promoting and protecting their rights, these programmes are being developed in consultation with children and young people.
New Zealand endorses the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the importance of a rights-based approach to meeting the needs of children. We note that Articles 34 and 35 of the Convention specifically require States to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, including child prostitution, child pornography and child trafficking. The fact that this is one of the most ratified conventions highlights the importance that we all attach to working for the best interests of children. New Zealand calls upon States to remain focused on this goal.
New Zealand has welcomed the enhanced international legal protection for children provided by the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. New Zealand has signed the Optional Protocol and is currently working to ensure that both domestic law and policy fully comply with the Optional Protocol. We hope that those States that have not yet ratified the Optional Protocol are doing the same.
This year, New Zealand demonstrated its support for eliminating the worst forms of child labour when we ratified ILO Convention 182. To ensure full compliance with the Convention, New Zealand made a number of amendments to domestic law, including the creation of a new offence prohibiting anyone from being a client of a prostitute who is under 18 years of age. Under this Convention, New Zealand is bound to design and implement programmes of action to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. New Zealand is seeking consistency as we implement strategies and programmes in accordance with both the Stockholm Declaration and the ILO Convention. We call on remaining States to take the relevant steps to prohibit and protect children from exploitative child labour practices.
When New Zealand attended the First World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, we committed ourselves to a global partnership against the commercial sexual exploitation of children. For New Zealand’s part, we have developed a national plan of action, which outlines our strategy for enforcing laws, policies and programmes to protect children from such exploitation.
Protecting our Innocence New Zealand’s National Plan of Action against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children provides a comprehensive examination of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in New Zealand. It outlines the measures that government and non-government organisations are currently implementing to prevent and respond to child exploitation through prostitution, pornography and child trafficking. It also details further activities, which were identified during the development of the plan of action, that need to be actioned as New Zealand works toward the goal of eliminating the exploitation and abuse of children.
New Zealand’s plan of action was developed collaboratively by government and non-government organisations, such as ECPAT NZ. We believe that this heralds a close, cooperative relationship between government and non-government organisations, as we work towards a common goal. We call on States to foster similar relationships, as it is only through partnership that we will be able to bring an end to this modern day form of slavery.
Our Plan of Action notes New Zealand’s particular success in responding to the problem of child pornography. New Zealand has a specialist Censorship Compliance Unit that works closely with Interpol and overseas enforcement agencies in a world-wide effort to combat the distribution and making of child pornography. Inspectors take a proactive role in prosecuting both New Zealanders who trade child pornography via the Internet and individuals who are trading in other jurisdictions. By undertaking this work in New Zealand and providing the evidence through Interpol to the authorities, New Zealand inspectors are able to thwart the attempts of offenders to avoid prosecution by trading in different jurisdictions. New Zealand’s international co-operation has led to the prosecution of offenders who otherwise may never have been detected.
Our achievements in this area remind us that the commercial sexual exploitation of children is a global problem that will not be stopped by the actions of one country alone. New Zealand commits itself to continue building cooperative relationships with other States, especially our neighbours in the Pacific and Asia. We express our gratitude to Japan, in cooperation with UNICEF and ECPAT, for providing us with the opportunity to invite all States to work with us to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights free from commercial sexual exploitation.