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UN Human Rights Council – 22nd Session
Clustered interactive dialogue with the SRSG on Violence against Children
and the SR on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
6 March 2013
Australia welcomes the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on violence against children and the report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Such extreme forms of child exploitation and abuse are abhorrent and unconscionable.
Australia remains firmly committed to ensuring the protection of all children from such egregious human rights abuses. It is heartening to see from the SRSG’s and Special Rapporteur’s reports the progress that has been made in building momentum to prevent and address violence against children in all contexts, and also in the protection of children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism.
Much more needs to be done. The Special Rapporteur’s report in particular details disturbing trends which will require further strong action to be taken by us all. If we - the international community - are to create a better future for our children, a future where children’s rights are respected and where children are encouraged to reach their fullest potential no matter where they live, we must intensify our efforts in working with each other as governments, hand-in-hand with civil society and, indeed, the private sector.
Violence and exploitation of children do not take place in a vacuum and, as both reports highlight, it is critical that important factors such as gender, poverty, lack of education and employment, are taken into consideration when implementing measures to protect children.
From Australia’s perspective, we see three elements as key to addressing these issues:
1. strong domestic action;
2. effective cooperation (with other countries, the private sector and civil society); and
3. the eradication of child poverty.
We were pleased to be able to discuss these aspects in more detail at the side event yesterday organised by the Special Rapporteur. To recap briefly, Australia is pleased that its efforts in combating child sex tourism, including extraterritorial laws in region, have been recognised. Our laws – and action to implement these laws - send a strong message to Australians who travel overseas for the purpose of sexually exploiting children that such behaviour will not be tolerated.
In addition to taking strong action at the national level, Australia works directly with other countries to tackle these issues, notably through the Project Childhood initiative. Australia is also an active participant in the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international collaboration of law enforcement agencies, NGOs and private sector partners.
We are strongly committed to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and the reduction of poverty, particularly amongst vulnerable children, and we encourage all countries to do the same. Australia will continue to play its part, including through our aid program, to ensure children are protected from violence and exploitation and their rights are respected.
We are pleased that Australia’s first Children’s Commissioner at the national level will commence her term later this month – a development which will ensure that children’s rights remain front and centre in the work done by the Australian Human Rights Commission, including in cooperation with other countries and other National Human Rights Institutions.
We are interested in the SRSG’s and the Special Rapporteur’s views on how, at an international level, we can collectively better address extreme forms of child abuse and exploitation, as well as good examples of international and intra-state coordination and cooperation.