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René van der Linden, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at  the launch ceremony

Ladies and gentlemen

It is my pleasure to welcome amongst us Professor Paulo Pinheiro, the independent expert appointed by the UN Secretary General to conduct the first global study on the scale of violence suffered by children throughout the world.

Professor Pinheiro has joined us here today to mark the European launch of the UN Study and I take this opportunity to restate our commitment to end violence against children and our continuing support to Building a Europe for and with Children. We all know too well that violence against children knows no geographical boundaries, nor it is particular to any culture, social group or class.

We all know too well that in spite of the multitude of international, regional and national commitments to protect children, practice proves that we must do more.

And what we know about violence is only a fraction of the full extent suffered by children in reality.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Parliamentary Assembly has repeatedly condemned all forms of violence against children.

We have in the past denounced : – Child trafficking and sexual exploitation of children ; – Child labour ; – Child soldiers and children of war ; – Corporal punishment ; – Abuse, neglect and abandonment, to mention a few.

Today, during this morning debate we have all called for: – greater protection of children’s rights ; – greater mediation mechanisms to guarantee children’s best interests ; – greater cooperation at international and national level to stop child trafficking and exploitation ; – greater accountability of childcare systems ; – better education and awareness-raising programmes.

Tomorrow? … Tomorrow will simply be too late, so I join Professor Pinheiro’s and the Deputy Secretary General’s appeal before the UN General Assembly last October, to persist that our plight is not how we will protect our children tomorrow, but how we can give them a childhood free from violence today.