Stopping sexual violence through international standards:
reports from high-level round table in New York

A high-level round table to discuss international standards to eliminate sexual violence against children was held within the context of the 55th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women the 28th of February 2011 in New York.

The round table discussed the contents and the complementarity of the two most important international legal texts in this field: the UN Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (the Lanzarote Convention).

Both the Council of Europe and the United Nations are campaigning for the ratification of these treaties that, if combined, create the necessary conditions to effectively fight sexual violence against children at national and international level.

The Lanzarote Convention was referred to as the most comprehensive legal text that should serve as a reference for action worldwide while through its universal ratification, the Optional Protocol would create a universal common legal space to address the worst forms of sexual violence.

When speaking about the need to raise awareness on the extent of sexual violence, the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Ms de Boer-Buquicchio presented the ONE in FIVE campaign as an empowering tool that responds to concrete needs and creates opportunities for action by all social partners.

The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Ms Marta Santos Pais, in particular underlined the need to develop child-friendly reporting and complaint mechanisms.

Ms Gordana Buljan Flander described the functioning of the Center for Child Protection in Croatia which she is heading and provided a concrete example of the interest of good coordinating between the various professionals involved in attending to cases of sexual violence. She also demonstrated how lessons learnt can be translated into information material for children, parents or professionals.

The panellists also stressed the key role that parliamentarians play in the ratification and implementation of international treaties. Ms Maria Stavrositu, a member of the Romanian Parliament and of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, referred to the creation of a network of contact parliamentarians in support of the Lanzarote Convention and the ONE in FIVE campaign.

The host and chair of the event, Ukrainian Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev, underlined his country's commitment to children's rights and recent steps undertaken to fight trafficking in children. Ukraine will soon be chairing the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers and children's rights appear as one of its programme priorities.