The Inter-Parliamentary Union gets involved against child trafficking
Cotonou, Benin, 28 May, 2010 - A regional conference took place in Palais des Congrès, in Cotonou, from May 26-28 on the following theme: "Towards a bold action of the Parliament for fighting the trafficking of children in view of their labor exploitation in West and Central Africa."
The meeting of Cotonou convened a hundred of participants from twenty parliaments of West and Central Africa. It was co-organised by the National Assembly of Benin, the Sahel West Africa Club (SWAC), the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The Speaker of the National Assembly of Benin, Mathurin Nago, presided over the opening ceremony, in the presence of the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Mahamane Ousmane, the Speaker of the Parliament of Gabon, Guy Nzouba-Ndama, the vice-president of the Senate of Congo, Benjamin Bounkoulou, the representative of the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Martin Chungong, the UN Resident Coordinator Nardos Bekele Thomas, and representatives of diplomatic missions including France, the United States of America, Switzerland, and Belgium.
In her opening remarks, the Honorable Célestine Adjanohoun, president of the conference steering committee, indicated that child trafficking is a global phenomenon that affects the West and Central regions of the Continent.
She deplored the fact that parliaments have no clearly defined and harmonized action at regional level.
The Speaker of the National Assembly denounced the damage of child trafficking at the beginning of the third millennium, as millions of children are still victims of abuse, forced labor, prostitution, or are being enrolled in armed conflicts. He urged the participants to put child labor and child trafficking forward on the parliaments’ agenda.
According to the representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Martin Chungong, "among 200 millions of active children are counted in the world, 115 millions are involved in forced labor. In order to address this issue, one of the strategies adopted in partnership with SWAC-OECD is the execution of a two-year project aiming at reinforcing the involvement of members of parliaments in this combat."
Several experts made presentations that enabled the participants to better understand the scope of child trafficking, and gave them an overview of the laws stemming the phenomenon.
In the presentation he made on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF Representative in Benin, Dr. Souleymane Diallo, draw the attention of all on child trafficking’s remaining "a global challenge" despite various laws being adopted, and he made proposals for strategic actions.
Dr. Diallo assessed that "The Conference of Cotonou should be an opportunity for launching again a dialogue between participants and technical commissions of parliaments that are in charge of adopting laws and following up the bills".
He added that "this will contribute to build a better future and an African continent fit for children."
"The Declaration of Cotonou" was adopted at the end of the Conference, and was marked by a firm commitment of the members of parliament.
It laid the ground for concerted action, and stronger regional initiatives, in view of eradicating child trafficking.
In addition, the Conference of Cotonou adopted a roadmap that includes short and mid-term common strategies. All the components of the society are meant to collaborate.
The Conference set up follow up committee to ensure compliance with the final recommendations.
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