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UN Conference on Child Sex Trade Opens - 2001-12-17

A four-day global conference on the sexual exploitation of children opens Monday in Japan. The meeting, the second world congress on the child sex trade, intends to come up with strategies to combat the problem.

The United Nations conference comes at a time when experts say organized crime is increasingly involved in the child sex trade. As well, technology increasingly is used in the production and distribution of child pornography.

The executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund, Carol Bellamy, told delegates the problem is a form of terrorism - drawing its victims from the ranks of the most vulnerable such as refugees, orphans and war victims. She says there are no simple solutions to the problem.

Participants in the four-day conference will discuss topics such as rescuing child prostitutes, the role of the private sector in the illicit trade and profiling those who sexually exploit children.

On the meeting's first day, the chairwoman of the event, Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, called for immediate action. She says that the sexual exploitation of children violates their human rights. "Here in Yokohama, let us declare to the world our firm resolve to fight against the commercial sexual exploitation of children."

This year's meeting is a follow-up to the first child sex congress in Stockholm five years ago. The conference has attracted about 3,300 delegates from more than 130 countries, including private organizations, youth and victims of sexual abuse.