UN Committee launches guidelines on combating child sexual exploitation and the sale of children in the digital age

Children – Sale and Sexual Exploitation

UN Committee launches guidelines on combating child sexual exploitation and the sale of children in the digital age
GENEVA (26 September 2019) – The United Nations Committee which monitors the Convention on the Rights of the Child is officially launching on Thursday new guidelines designed to help States better implement the Convention’s Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

The Guidelines drawn up by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child place a particular focus on the specific new threats confronting children all across the world as a result of digital technologies such as the internet and social media.

Rapidly evolving information and communication technologies have provided sexual offenders with a variety of new opportunities and means to abuse children. They are being used to groom children for sexual purposes; to view and participate in online child sexual abuse via live video streaming; to distribute child sexual abuse material, including self-generated content resulting from “sexting;” and to commit sexual extortion.

Offenders are connecting and sharing encrypted information with one another, and using the ‘darknet’ to commit or facilitate offences covered by the Optional Protocol. This presents new and complex challenges for law enforcement. In a world where internet access is expanding at unprecedented levels, the risk of children being sexually exploited, or of being bought and sold as a commodity, both within and across national borders, has been growing at an alarming rate.

The Guidelines aim to foster a deeper understanding of the provisions of the Optional Protocol, and offer practical solutions based on the good practices and challenges that States have encountered in its implementation. They are designed to assist the 176 States that have ratified the Optional Protocol so far – as well as those which accede to it in the future – to implement its provisions effectively.
The Guidelines also address the role played by the private sector and States’ obligation to ensure companies and other private sector entities take action to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.

“The Guidelines cover prevention, prohibition of the sale of children and their sexual exploitation for prostitution and in pornography, measures to prevent impunity of perpetrators and measures to support and rehabilitate child victims,” said the Committee’s Chair, Luis Pedernera. “We believe they can be of considerable help to States in their efforts to combat these atrocious crimes which continue to blight the lives of so many children across the world. This is no longer a case of an occasional hidden offender living at the bottom of the street. It is now a case of a multitude of offenders on the other side of the world who can reach directly inside our homes in order to corrupt and destroy our children’s lives. This is a battle we simply cannot afford to lose.”

The Guidelines regarding the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography were adopted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child at its 81st session (13–31 May 2019). They are now available at: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CRC/CRC.C.156_OPSC%20Guidelines.pdf