A CALL FOR GLOBAL ACTION TO PROTECT THE WORLD’S
CHILDREN AND STOP THE ABUSE OF THEIR RIGHTS
3 November 2011
Each child is precious. Each child is endowed by his creator with
basic human rights. Yet, the rights of millions of children each
year are abused and violated. The United Nations Convention on the Rights
of the Child spells out the rights of the world’s children in 54
articles. Among these enumerated rights are:
- the obligation for states to act in the best interests of the child
- the responsibility to ensure that children’s rights
are respected, protected and fulfilled (Article 4);
- the right of survival
and development (Article 6);
- the right to family reunification (Article
- the protection against kidnapping (Article 11);
- the right to be
heard and participate (Article
- the protection against all forms of violence (Article 19);
- the right
to good quality health care (Article 24);
and of special interest and importance to the participants in this forum;
- the right to be protected from sexual exploitation (Article 34);
right to be protected from abduction, sale and trafficking (Article
- the right to rehabilitation for child victims (Article 39).
Articles 34 and 35 are further enhanced by the Convention’s Optional
Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
Yet, in spite of this historic framework there is abundant evidence
that the rights of the world’s children are being violated on a
daily basis in all parts of the globe.
There are indications that with the advent of the Internet, the abuse and
exploitation of children have become even greater problems. For the first
time in human history, millions of people have easy, virtually anonymous
access to images of the sexual abuse of children online. There is also
growing evidence that organized criminals are marketing and selling children
as commodities online.
Perhaps most alarming is the fact that child trafficking and child sexual
exploitation have become an industry. Why would organized criminals engage
in the sale and trade of children? The reasons are obvious. Children
are plentiful and easily accessed; this illicit business is easy, low
cost, and there is a huge consumer market for the children; it is enormously
profitable; and it is low risk, far less risky than the illegal trade
in drugs, weapons, tobacco, etc. Our goal must be to increase the risk
and eliminate the profitability of this illicit industry. A key element
in achieving this goal is to mobilize world leaders to attack the demand
worldwide for sex and other illegal activity involving children.
The attendees of this forum believe that the world is facing a crisis
in its efforts to preserve the rights of children and protect all children
from abuse and sexual exploitation. This crisis requires new thinking,
new approaches, and new global awareness. In much of the world
today there is inadequate law, inadequate awareness and knowledge, and
inadequate capacity to act effectively to address this problem.
The people of the world look to governments and international bodies
to enact and enforce laws, treaties, and protocols to preserve the rights
of children and prevent the exploitation of children in all its forms.
We look to law enforcement, prosecutors, and the judiciary to enforce
such laws fairly and aggressively in order to protect the world’s
children. Yet, government alone is not the answer. We must mobilize caring,
concerned citizens around the world. We must awaken the public to the
toll of abuse and exploitation on our most vulnerable citizens. We must
speak together in a strong, loud voice, demanding change and calling
upon world leaders to act.
Private corporations must join in this effort, bringing innovation and
new solutions to our fight against the traffickers and exploiters. New
technologies are dramatically improving the quality of life for millions
of people. Yet, these same technologies present new opportunities for
exploiters and those who victimize children. The same companies which
develop these new technologies must be an integral part of the effort
to ensure that the technologies are not misused to harm children.
The fight to protect children is one which can unify citizens in every
country, every culture and every religion. The poet Kahlil Gibran
wrote, “Keep me away from the wisdom that does not cry, the philosophy
which does not laugh, and the greatness which does not bow before children.” The
attendees of this Roman Forum call upon world leaders and people everywhere
to join us in a global campaign to protect the world’s children.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION
That the attendees of this Roman Forum
join in a unified call for greater global awareness and action to
eradicate the abuse and exploitation of the world’s children
and commit to undertake a global awareness campaign.
That a global summit be convened, involving heads
of state, leaders of international bodies, business leaders and other
world figures to identify new cooperative actions to eradicate the
abuse and exploitation of the world’s children.
That world leaders commit to undertake a concerted
effort to dismantle the system of supply and demand that keeps the
sale and marketing of children robust across the globe.
That leaders of the world’s great religions
become engaged in proactive efforts to inform and mobilize members
of every faith to join in a global movement to protect the world’s
That parliaments around the world examine their existing
laws and enact new, improved laws to better protect children and
to hold those accountable who abuse and exploit children.
That leaders of technology companies commit to develop
and implement new tools and technologies to attack the proliferation
of sex abuse images on the Internet and interdict the redistribution
of the images of identified child victims.
That leaders of the financial industry, the information
industry and other key industries join together in voluntary coalitions
to better attack the problem of abuse and sexual exploitation.
That the attendees of this Roman Forum urge the creation
of a global initiative to improve the recognition and identification
of child victims, and ensure help for the massive numbers of hidden
victims of child abuse and sexual exploitation.
That physicians and medical institutions around the
world enhance training for medical professionals in recognizing the
warning signs of abuse and sexual exploitation, and improve the reporting
and treatment of such abuse and sexual exploitation.
That physicians, medical institutions and social services
agencies ensure that adequate and appropriate treatment and support
is provided to the victims of child sexual abuse, and that steps
be taken to ensure that these children are not re-victimized during
or after their treatment.
That governments and private institutions enhance
resources available to psychiatric and other treatment professionals
for expanded treatment and rehabilitation services for children who
have been trafficked, exploited or abused.
That mental health and criminal justice institutions
implement research-based, clinically-proven treatment programs for
sex abusers, and that effective systems be developed for measuring
the effectiveness of such treatment in order to minimize recidivism.
That public and private institutions place greater
emphasis on the role of the family in nurturing and protecting children,
and that efforts be undertaken globally to strengthen families in
every nation and every culture.
That each individual around the world recognizes a
child as a human being with his or her own dignity and rights, as
an individual person who has a voice which should be heard. Young
people contribute to their own and other children's safety by taking
part in discussions and providing advice to policy-makers, parents
That national leaders commit to build national centers
in their countries and cooperative regional centers in their geographic
regions to focus on creating a better, more effective and coordinated
response to cases of child abduction, child trafficking and sexual
That all governments should create a senior-level
position within their government responsible for children’s
rights to advise the head of state, advocate for basic changes domestically
and internationally to better protect children, and to serve as the
top official in the country charged with defending and protecting
the rights of children.
That law enforcement organizations expand regional
and global cooperation in order to improve information sharing in
investigations and increase collaborative efforts in addressing these
crimes against children which cross national boundaries.
That law enforcement institutions around the world
enhance training for law enforcement officers in recognizing the
warning signs of abuse and sexual exploitation.
That training and education be provided for the
judiciary, ensuring that judges everywhere apply and enforce the
laws regarding the violation of the basic human rights of children
and the sexual exploitation of children seriously and uniformly,
and further that such training emphasize that those who victimize
children must be held fully accountable under the law.
||That citizens in every country be made more alert
and aware regarding the abuse and sexual exploitation of children,
and that they be urged to report such abuse or exploitation to appropriate
authorities if they see it, know about it, or suspect it.