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Shedding Light on the Shadows of Voluntourism: FNI' New Report for the United Nations

The Facts and Norms Institute (FNI) has recently submitted input to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, Ms. Mama Fatima Singhateh. This submission comes in preparation for a thematic report focusing on the exploitation and sexual abuse of children in the context of travel and tourism, with a particular emphasis on voluntourism.

Voluntourism, which combines volunteer work with tourism, has been marketed as an opportunity for meaningful travel and cultural exchange. However, the FNI's report highlights the dual-edged nature of such experiences. While voluntourism can foster personal growth and cultural understanding, it also raises critical issues concerning the potential for exploitation and harm, particularly to children in vulnerable communities.

Navigating the Complex World of Voluntourism

FNI's report details the main drivers behind voluntourism, including altruism, the desire for personal development, and the pursuit of unique experiences. However, it also notes the lack of stringent vetting processes for volunteers, the commercialization of voluntourism, and the insufficient measures in place to ensure that volunteer work truly benefits local communities and does not inadvertently contribute to child exploitation.

One of the key findings of the FNI's investigation is the need for greater transparency and accountability within the voluntourism industry. The report calls for the implementation of comprehensive guidelines and standards to safeguard against the exploitation of children, ensuring that voluntourism initiatives are conducted ethically and responsibly.

The report also underscores the vital role of the Brazilian government and international community in addressing the challenges posed by voluntourism. It suggests that more robust legislation, stricter regulation of voluntourism organizations, and increased support for initiatives that genuinely serve the needs of local communities are essential steps towards mitigating the risks associated with voluntourism.

While voluntourism has the potential to contribute positively to global understanding and cooperation, it must be approached with caution and a deep commitment to the rights and welfare of the most vulnerable members of society. The institute hopes that their findings will contribute to the development of more effective policies and practices that prioritize the well-being of children and ensure the ethical conduct of voluntourism projects worldwide.

To read the full report, click here:

Human Rights and Voluntourism. Input to the UN regarding Brazil
Download PDF • 807KB


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