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The Working Group Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children aims to promote the protection of children from sexual exploitation, abuse and violence as outlined in article 34 of the CRC. The Working Group plays an active role in advocating for these issues through various UN mechanisms (most notably the treaty body and special rapporteurs) and in close collaboration with other special interests groups.
Rio de Janeiro Declaration and Call for Action
The Call for Action provides a comprehensive framework for the protection of children and adolescents from all forms of sexual exploitation. It covers outstanding challenges, international and regional instruments, forms of sexual exploitation and its new scenarios, legal frameworks, cross-sector policies and national plans of actions, international cooperation, social responsibility iniatives, monitoring, and follow-up. It also includes an Adolescent Declaration to End Sexual Exploitation.
World Congress III against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents
Despite the many advances made following the First World Congress held in Stockhold (1996) and the one held in Yokohama (2001), criminal activities related to the sexual exploitation of children are on the rise. To mobilize key actors worldwide once again to protect children more effectively from sexual exploitation, the government of Brazil, ECPAT, UNICEF and Child Rights Connect are preparing a third Congress to be held on November 25-28 2008, in Rio de Janeiro. The governments of Sweden and Japan are providing support and advice for this third Congress that will build on the progress made in Stockholm and Yokohama. The Agenda for Action that resulted from the previous Congresses has become an essential tool in mobilizing action to protect children from sexual exploitation.
Through its active involvement in the first two congresses and its close work with the Committee on the Rights of the Child, members of Child Rights Connect and in particular national coalitions of NGOs, Child Rights Connect provides a link to these key actors and the international treaty which focuses on the subject, namely the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC). For the third Congress, Child Rights Connect’s involvement includes:
- Coordinating and facilitating the participation of its member organizations
- Contributing research to a thematic paper on legal frameworks
- Co-organizing a regional consultation in Africa and supporting NGO input to other regional meetings
- Utilizing the resources provided by the Working Group on Sexual Exploitation
More information on the history of the World Congresses can be found here.
Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
With the adoption of the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC) in 2000, the international community finally obtained a legally binding instrument to complement the Agenda for Action. Its entry into force in 2002 marked a considerable advance since the last World Congress held in Yokohama. To date, it has been ratified by 128 States and 36 States have submitted initial reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The OPSC gives special emphasis to the criminalisation of serious violations of children's rights. Its definitions of three violations of child's rights, namely: the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography enhance international cooperation for their penalisation. Countries that ratify the OPSC agree to include the sale of children, illegal adoption, child prostitution and pornography in their criminal code. The OPSC also emphasizes the value of international cooperation and of public awareness, information and education campaigns to ensure the protection of children from sexual exploitation.
Child Rights Connect has been supporting the work of the Committee and that of NGOs in monitoring the implementation of this legal instrument, particularly in the preparation of NGO reports to the Committee. Child Rights Connect Focal Point on Sexual Exploitation produced a Guide for NGOs Reporting to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (2006) aimed at supporting reporting and monitoring processes under the OPSC. The Guide provides background information on the drafting of the protocol, a commentary on some of the first State parties’ reports, and information on the initial reporting processes. The is also available on French and Spanish.
Sexual Exploitation and the UN Study on Violence against Children
As a contribution to the UN Study on Violence against Children, Child Rights Connect Focal Point on Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Abuse of Children conducted a review of 140 NGO reports submitted to the Committee between 1990 and 2005 in order to highlight what information on violence was available. The study Violence against Children: What do NGOs know? What NGOs say? provides a broad outline of how violence is reported in the different "settings" established by the UN Study on Violence against Children (home, school, institutions, community, and workplace) and according to regions. The study showed that NGO reports to the Committee contain more references to violations related to sexual exploitation of children than to the violation of any other right.
Awareness is not always followed by action however. In order to help NGOs to include comprehensive information on the incidence of violence in their reports to the Committee, the Working Group on Violence against Children has prepared guidelines for NGOs on Reporting on Violence against Children: A Thematic Guide for non-governmental organizations reporting to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Guidelines aim to assist NGOs in ensuring that there is adequate discussion on and analysis of violence in the preparation of NGOs reports and that the concluding observations of the Committee reflect concerns about violence and represent a tool for follow-up at national level.
Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
The Working Group monitors and actively supports the role of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur is to consider matters relating to the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, including the analysis of the root causes, new patterns, and identifying, exchanging and promoting best practices and measures to combat these specific violations of children's rights.
More information on the scope of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, current and previous mandate holders, focus of reports and country visits can be found here.
Contact details of the Working Group
For more information on the Working Group on Sexual Exploitation, please contact François Xavier Souchet: email@example.com, the convenor of the Working Group.