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A global call for robust child protection structures in travel and tourism to stem unregulated and unskilled voluntourism

Posted on Nov 17, 2023

17 November 2023

New York, USA – ECPAT International, PACT, and Ms. Mama Fatima Singhateh, the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, spearheaded a movement to reshape voluntourism. This critical event was held last month on the 10th of October.

Based on the UN Special Rapporteur’s findings on the exploitation and sexual abuse of children in travel and tourism, with a closer look at the phenomena of voluntourism, the event brought together a diverse group of global authorities and advocates to call for responsible voluntourism practices.

Event Highlights:

  • Opening Remarks by Ms. Mama Fatima Singhateh: Presenting the UN report on the exploitation and sexual abuse of children in the context of travel and tourism, with a specific focus on voluntourism.

  • Roundtable Discussion: Analysing the UN report’s findings and formulating recommendations for regulating voluntourism, including stopping orphanage tourism.

  • Action Planning Session: Collaborative strategies to elevate global, regional and country-level action, drawing from best practices and practical experiences.

Statements from Key Organisers:

Ms. Mama Fatima Singhateh emphasised the urgent need for collective action to regulate harmful forms of voluntourism through due diligence measures and “do no harm” policies and practices so children are not exploited for profit in the travel and tourism industry. Guillaume Landry of ECPAT International called for a global commitment to create sustainable travel and tourism – where voluntourism is regulated and children are protected. Lori Cohen of PACT stressed the importance of turning recommendations into actions for a world free of child exploitation.

This significant gathering marks a pivotal step towards achieving global standards and policies like the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The event’s recording and the UN report, which provide detailed insights and recommendations, are now accessible below:

About the Organisers:

  • ECPAT International: A global network of 126 organisations across 100+ countries dedicated to eradicating child sexual exploitation. Learn more.

  • PACT: The leading U.S. anti-child trafficking organisation, a member of ECPAT International. Learn more.

  • UN Special Rapporteur: Focused on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, mandated to analyse root causes and make recommendations for rehabilitation. Learn more.

Media Contacts:

ECPAT International: Andrew Beaton, Head of Communications –