ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) is a non-governmental organisation and a global network of civil society organisations exclusively dedicated to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). It focuses on ending four main manifestations of CSEC: child pornography (child sexual abuse materials), the exploitation of children in prostitution, the trafficking of children for sexual purposes and the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism.
The ECPAT International network consists of a Secretariat and 90 member organisations in 82 countries. The Bangkok-based International Secretariat provides technical support to member groups and coordinates research, advocacy and action.
ECPAT International seeks to encourage the world community to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights free and secure from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation.
In 1990, researchers at a tourism consultation in Thailand first exposed the degree to which the prostitution of children was growing in parts of Asia. The consultation ended with a commitment to take action and ECPAT was established as a three-year campaign focused on ending the ‘commercial’ aspect of child sexual exploitation. In 1996, in partnership with UNICEF and the NGO Group for the Rights of the Child (now known as Child Rights Connect), ECPAT co-organised the First World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Stockholm, Sweden. The Congress was hosted by the Government of Sweden, which also played a major role in attracting support and participation from concerned governments all over the world. As a result of the Congress, ECPAT grew from a regional campaign into a global non-governmental organisation (NGO). ECPAT is mandated to monitor the commitments of governments around the world in their legal obligations to protect children from sexual exploitation. ECPAT also helped organise the Second and Third World Congresses against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (Yokohama, Japan – 2001, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 2008).
Since the first World Congress against the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), when ECPAT International received the mandate to evaluate progress at the national level in ending CSEC, ECPAT has prepared Country Monitoring Reports (CMRs) to follow up implementation of the Stockholm Agenda for Action (Stockholm, 1996).
The ECPAT network currently consists of 90 member organisations in 82 countries. These member groups (National and Affiliate) are independent civil society organisations consisting of grassroots NGOs and coalitions of NGOs focused on a range of child rights violations.
ECPAT holds an International Assembly every three years to strengthen the network, share good practices and recent developments in the fight to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and to explore further opportunities for collaboration.
The Code was developed by ECPAT Sweden after the First World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in 1996. It was implemented for the first time in 1998 by the three principal tour operators in Sweden with much success. This led to the initiative being adopted by the international ECPAT network resulting in over 1,300 signatories across 42 countries around the world. Since 2004, The Code has operated as an independent non-profit organisation. The Code is a responsible tourism tool for the industry to integrate child protection into its corporate social responsibility or sustainable tourism initiatives. Several organization have signed on to show their support.
ECPAT International works with partners to prevent the exploitation of children through the misuse of the Internet and information and communication technologies (ICTs). In addition to relying on the work in the field done by some of the members of its network, it engages with other child rights organisations, for example, through the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and international law enforcement agencies. It is a member of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) and the European Financial Coalition against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Online (EFC). It is also part of the International Telecommunication Union´s (ITU) Child Online Protection initiative (COP). ECPAT has signed agreements with the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE), the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and Child Helpline International (CHI).
ECPAT advocates for the ratification of international and regional legal instruments such as the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote convention), in addition to the harmonisation of national laws with these instruments.
The Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People campaign, launched by ECPAT International and The Body Shop (2009–2012), engaged the public as advocates and called on governments to safeguard the rights of children and adolescents to protect them from sex trafficking. During the three-year campaign 7,044,278 petition signatures were collected worldwide. The petitions were presented to government officials around the world and to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2012.2013 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize
2012 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award
2012 Gold Standard Award for NGO engagement for the Stop Sex Trafficking of Children campaign
1998 Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize for Human Rights