THE PACT IN BRIEF
The aims and objectives of the Strategic Action Plan will be promoted and achieved principally through the Congress’s Pact of Towns and Regions to stop sexual violence against children, endorsed by the Congress Bureau in September 2012.
The Pact proposes a four-pronged approach of Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Participation - the four “Ps” - to be adopted by local and regional authorities in their efforts to combat sexual violence against children. The challenge to Europe’s towns and regions when dealing with these cases is to raise awareness of the issue, to develop and implement community-based action plans and strategies to address the four “Ps”, and to invest in better services. All services and actions must be respectful of children’s rights, put the child’s best interest first, and enable children’s voices to be heard, in order to deliver locally what children and families need to stop sexual violence and sexual abuse, as well as to bring perpetrators to justice.
The Congress’s Pact contains a list of possible actions that local and regional authorities may take in all of these four “P” domains and aims to get as many towns and regions as possible to sign up for it. As the governance level closest to the victims of child sexual exploitation and abuse, local and regional authorities are best placed to set up structures which implicate all actors in the chain of care and ensure that the best support and assistance possible is given to children. They also have a duty to serve not only the needs of the child victims, but also the family system and the community as a whole. This is why the Pact invites local and regional authorities to adopt the multidisciplinary approach promoted by the Lanzarote Convention and to develop coordinated structures, processes and mechanisms to tackle sexual violence against children. Aware that implementing the type of strategies and structures proposed by the Convention could require substantial investment, and considering that in a time of economic and financial crisis many local authorities see their resources cut, the Congress’s Pact also suggests action that requires very little, if any public spending, for example putting a link on towns’ homepages to the Council of Europe ONE in FIVE website.
A programme of awareness-raising of the Pact was launched in 2013 to achieve as many signatures from towns and regions from as many Council of Europe member states as possible. A “Pact Platform” has been set up on the Congress ONE in FIVE website (www.coe.int/congress-pact) where towns and regions can sign up and provide information on their initiatives and structures to stop sexual violence against children. This Platform will also serve as a database of good practices.
A toolkit is available which offers to local and regional authorities, associations, NGOs and other stakeholders, proposals for policies, strategies and tools that they can implement. It comprises a leaflet about the ONE in FIVE campaign and the Pact; the Pact itself; a leaflet presenting the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention); and an A3-sized poster which can be customised by the stakeholders participating in the ONE in FIVE campaign to contain their message and logo.