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A poster for an anti-child trafficing conference

A conference to explore the tourism industry's role in combating the sexual trafficking of children will take place on April 21 on the Twin Cities campus.

Stopping the traffic

The University of Minnesota hosts groundbreaking conference on child sex trafficking and the tourism industry

April 18, 2006

The sexual exploitation of children may be one of humanity's most unspeakable crimes--yet it remains startlingly pervasive in cities around the globe. The problem is particularly rampant in regions where tourism, one of the fastest growing industries in the world, is booming.

Recognizing that the crisis of child sex trafficking transcends global, class, and socio-economic boundaries, the University of Minnesota will host a major international conference, "United Front for Children: Global Efforts to Combat Sexual Trafficking of Children in Travel and Tourism" to engage academia, government, non-governmental agencies (NGOs), and private corporations in the struggle. The conference takes place this Friday, April 21, in Coffman Union Theater, 300 Washington Ave. S.E., Minneapolis, and is free and open to the public (registration is required).

The problem of child sex trafficking was recently named a top priority for the Bush administration. By many estimates, each year, hundreds of thousands of young boys and girls are bought, sold, or kidnapped for sexual exploitation.

"United Front for Children" will focus on the role the tourism industry plays in the issue. Keynote speakers include Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, Ambassador John Miller of the U.S. State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, and Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman and CEO of the Carlson Companies, the first North American tourism company to sign an international travel industry code of conduct to help stop the trafficking of children. Individuals representing Brazil, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, and the U.K. will discuss how they are tailoring solutions to fit their regions.

The Human Rights Program and the Human Rights Center at the U, in addition to a variety of businesses and academic and nongovernmental entities, are sponsoring the conference to address root causes of sex trafficking and forge new collaborations.

On the Twin Cities campus, a number of students have become involved in efforts to curb sex trafficking. Berglind Halldorsdottir, one of the founding members of Students Against Human Trafficking, and Vanna Chan, a representative of the Campus Coalition Against Trafficking, will speak in a session called "Student Actions," beginning at 4:00 p.m.

For a review of the conference and a complete story on the efforts of University students, faculty, and visiting fellows to help stop the sexual exploitation of children, please see the U's homepage on April 28.