The ECPAT network has expanded from four groups (all in Asia) prior to the World Congress in 1996 to more than 80 groups in over 70 countries by 2007. All of these groups are independent organisations or coalitions working against the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
The ECPAT network as a whole is composed of: the ECPAT groups, which gather every three years and form the International Assembly; the International Board, elected by the International Assembly; and the International Secretariat. Other informal entities, such as ECPAT Europe, a regional grouping of Western European members and individuals (Regional Coordinators and Regional Representatives) play a significant role in the functioning of the movement.
The International Secretariat also works with international non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations (Interpol, World Tourism Organisation, Inter-americano Instituto del Niño, ASEM and various United Nations agencies, especially UNICEF and ILO-IPEC) to exchange skills, information and for advocacy purposes. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the NGO Group Focal Point Programme on child sexual exploitation, abuse and violence. One aspect of the understanding is that each organisation will share its work plan with the others. Linkages with all these organisations brings external pressures to bear on national governments to implement the Stockholm Declaration and Agenda for Action.
The strength of the ECPAT movement is based on its activities at local, national and international levels. These activities empower the constituents of the movement in a number of ways. The work of the national and affiliate groups at the local and national levels validates the role of the International Secretariat. At the same time, the international activities carried out and/or promoted and/or assisted by the Secretariat give strength and credibility to the individual groups. The By working together, these ECPAT actors give the movement an increasing status and authority in international circles. The ECPAT movement is indeed the main player in the fight against CSEC.
Within the ECPAT network, groups have different roles and focuses depending on the particularities of the country or region they operate in, whether in terms of the situation of CSEC, economic power or cultural context.
The Western European groups, as well as Australia and New Zealand in the Pacific, understand that part of their role as ECPAT groups is helping to build the capacities of groups in developing countries. They are therefore interested in developing bilateral and multilateral co-operation arrangements for the transfer of skills and sharing lobbying tools. Their national activities focus mainly on combating child sex tourism as 'sending' countries, trafficking of children for sexual purposes as 'receiving' countries and child pornography on the Internet.