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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2002 > December
Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 24, 2002

The Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography

The United States has officially become a State Party to the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography at the United Nations today. The Senate unanimously provided its advice and consent to ratification and President Bush signed the instruments of ratification. This is another example of the commitment of the United States to working with the international community to end abuses and to recognize universal human rights norms. This protocol seeks to protect children from commercial sexual exploitation.

A Global Problem

We do not know how many millions of children in the world are victimized in the multi-billion dollar commercial sex trade, since most of this criminal activity is hidden. That said, an estimated one million children are currently trafficked for coerced sexual exploitation or labor. These exploited children are at increased risk of violence, drug abuse, and disease including HIV/AIDS. On-line stalkers, international pornography rings, and sex tourism are increasing in a world where such problems are becoming more globalized.

A Global Response

  • International Labor Organization Convention 182, adopted in 1999 and ratified by the U.S. in 2000, provides that State parties shall take immediate and effective measures to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labor, including child prostitution and pornography.
  • The "Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children," supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, was adopted by the United Nations in November 2000 and signed by the United States in December 2000, at the first opportunity to do so.
  • The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography was adopted by the UN General Assembly on May 25, 2000 and came into force January 18, 2002. One hundred five countries have signed and 42 (now including the U.S.) have ratified it.


The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography:

  • This protocol is the first instrument of international law to define these terms.
  • It protects children up to age 18 by treating the actions of exploiters as criminal acts which merit serious punishment.
  • It calls for States Parties to provide victims with counseling and rehabilitation.
  • It promotes international law enforcement cooperation with provisions covering such diverse issues as jurisdiction and extradition, mutual legal assistance, and asset confiscation.

Highlights of the United States Effort to Combat Sexual Exploitation of Children

  • The U.S. has long been a leader, domestically and internationally, in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation.
  • There are US statutes against child exploitation that are reviewed and amended annually to meet the needs of investigations, technological changes, and globalization.
  • Domestic investigations of child prostitution, child pornography, and trafficking of children for illicit purposes are vigorously prosecuted.
  • Victim and witness support services are provided by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, and include protections within the judicial process and, most recently, special services and visas for victims of trafficking and exploitation.
  • The U.S. has an impressive record of federal agencies (Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, US Customs, US Postal Service, and the Department of State Diplomatic Security Bureau) working with colleagues worldwide on prostitution/trafficking rings and on cyber-crimes, including child luring and child pornography.
  • USAID and the Departments of State and Labor (among others) fund international programs to assist countries in prevention, protection, prosecution and rehabilitation.

 For additional information: http://www.unicef.org/crc/oppro.htm



Released on December 24, 2002

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