The Global Ratification Campaign on the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Background of the campaign
2010 marked the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the 10th anniversary of the adoption of its two Optional Protocols, respectively on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC) and on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC). The ratification and implementation of these treaties lay the foundation for the safeguard of children’s rights and their effective protection from violence, abuse and exploitation.
For this reason, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UNICEF, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography are promoting a campaign aiming at the universal ratification of the Protocols to the CRC.
The global campaign was launched on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Optional Protocols, on May 25, 2010. The campaign is also supportive of the initiatives being undertaken to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour and the adoption of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol).
To date, the OPSC has been widely ratified.
The campaign is also promoted at the regional level. The African Union together with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), UNICEF and the OHCHR jointly organized a high level meeting for the universal ratification of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The meeting was held on 31 May 2011, in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia, organized in close partnership with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secratary-General on Violence against Children, the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU), the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, UN Women and Save the Children.
Objectives of the campaign
Promote the universal ratification of the OPSC mobilizing the widest political and social support to this end.
Raise awareness of States Parties obligation to protect all children below the age of 18 from all forms of sexual exploitation, to criminalize all acts of sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and to ensure the rights of child victims and witnesses. A child who has been sexually exploited should be treated as a victim rather than a criminal, irrespective of the legal age of sexual consent.
Promote the adoption and effective implementation of national legislation in conformity with the provisions of the OPSC, including to:
- Criminalize the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
- Establish extra-territorial jurisdiction and abolish the double criminality requirement with respect to offenses covered by the OPSC.
- Ensure that offences covered by the OPSC are made extraditable.
- Ensure the liability of legal persons.
- Protect the rights and interests of child victims and witnesses at all stages of the criminal justice process, including their privacy and safety, taking into consideration their views, needs and concerns.
Raise awareness of States Parties obligations to:
- Safeguard children’s rights, best interests and participation in relevant decisions and proceedings and ensure the rights of child victims to appropriate assistance, including their right to recovery, reintegration and compensation.
- Strengthen the capacity of professionals working with and for children to prevent and address the offenses covered by the OPSC.
- Raise awareness among the public at large, including children, through information, education and training about preventive measures and harmful effects of the offences referred to in the OPSC.
- Promote international cooperation and mutual assistance for the implementation of the OPSC.
Promote respect for States Parties’ reporting obligations to the Committee on the Rights of the Child and relevant follow up to the Committees’ concluding observations and to recommendations of children’s rights mandate holders.
The Campaign was launched by the SRSG on Violence against Children, in cooperation with UNICEF, the OHCHR, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the SRSG for Children in Armed Conflict and the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and it will be further promoted in collaboration with Members States, other UN agencies and offices, international organizations and NGOs at the global, regional and national levels.
- Promote the campaign in strategic UN Treaty events to achieve universal ratification.
- Raise awareness of the campaign and promote events in support of the campaign’s objectives, at the national, regional and international levels.
- Promote advocacy with countries that have not signed or ratified the OPSC, to encourage their adherence to this treaty.
- Support the development and enforcement of national legislation and the promotion of other implementation measures for the protection of children from all forms of sexual exploitation, in compliance with the OPSC.
- Include reference to the campaign in the framework of the consideration of periodic reports by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and during relevant country visits and advocacy activities by the SRSG-VAC and human rights mandate holders.
What the campaign will achieve
- Strengthen the acceptance of the OPSC and its effective enforcement as a normative foundation for the protection of children from violence, in particular from all forms of sexual exploitation.
- Criminalization of all forms of sexual exploitation of children under the age of 18, namely the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
- Effective protection of the rights of child victims and witnesses, safeguarding their rights as victims of crime, and exempting them from arrest and prosecution.
- Promotion of a holistic response to the protection of children from all forms of sexual exploitation, including through the prevention of the offences established by the OPSC, the consideration of their root causes, the recovery and reintegration of child victims, and the punishment of those found responsible.
- Cross border cooperation to fight impunity of all forms of sexual exploitation of children wherever they take place.
Handbook on the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornograpy (published by UNICEF Innocenti Research Center)