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The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography is a protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and requires states to prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

The Protocol was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000[1] and entered into force on 18 January 2002.[2] As of May 2009, 131 states are party to the protocol and another 31 states have signed but not yet ratified it.[2]

Article 1 of the protocol declares that states must protect the rights and interests of child victims of trafficking, child prostitution and child pornography, child labour and especially the worst forms of child labour.

The remaining articles in the protocol outline the standards for international law enforcement covering diverse issues such as jurisdictional factors, extradition, mutual assistance in investigations, criminal or extradition proceedings and seizure and confiscation of assets as well.

It also obliges nations to pass laws within their own territories against these practices "punishable by appropriate penalties that take into account their grave nature."

According to the preamble, this protocol is intended to achieve the purposes of certain articles in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, where the rights are defined with the provision that states should take "appropriate measures" to protect them.


The Protocol requires states to prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Article 2 defines the prohibition:

  • Sale of children is any act or transaction whereby a child is transferred by any person or group of persons to another for remuneration or any other consideration
  • Child prostitution is the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration
  • Child pornography is any representation, by whatever means, of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes.

The Convention generally defines a child as any human being under the age of 18, unless an earlier age of majority is recognized by a country's law.

Signatories and reservations


Qatar added in its signing statement that it was "...subject to a general reservation regarding any provisions in the protocol that are in conflict with the Islamic Shariah."[3]

Objections to this reservation were registered in the signing statements by Austria, France, Germany, Norway, Spain and Sweden.


On the floor of the United Nations General Assembly, Sweden clarified its interpretation of child pornography as applying only to visual representations, and not applying to adults acting, posing or dressing as a child.[4]

United States

Besides Somalia, the United States is the only country to have not ratified the main convention.[5]

Its signing statement makes clear that it "assumes no obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child by becoming a party to the Protocol."[3] It also states that it "is not a party to The Hague Convention, but expects to become a party."

See also


no:FNs valgfrie protokoll om salg av barn, barneprostitusjon og barnepornografi

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