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US bilateral agreement with Viet Nam

Optional Protocols to the CRC on Sex Trafficking, Armed Conflict

The United Nations adopted two protocols to the CRC on May 25, 2000, the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography 2000 (Sex Trafficking Protocol) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (Child Soldiers Protocol) .  The Sex Trafficking Protocol (STP) addresses the problem of sex trafficking, one among many purposes for which children are bought and sold, including, in addition, forced labor, adoption, participation in armed conflicts, marriage, and organ trade.  The Preamble refers to achieving “the purposes of the CRC” and to the need for States Parties to implement specific provisions, among them CRC articles 34 and 35 on broad protections against child trafficking, sexual exploitation, and abuse.  The Preamble also reflects CRC language in regard to protecting children from economic exploitation and performance of hazardous or harmful work.  In addition, it recognizes “that a number of particularly vulnerable groups, including girl children, are at greater risk of sexual exploitation” and are disproportionately represented among the sexually exploited, and expresses concern over “the growing availability of child pornography on the Internet and other evolving technologies.”  The STP defines and prohibits the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography; obliges States Parties to make certain acts punishable under their criminal law; sets forth the bases for States Parties to assert jurisdiction over actionable practices, and strengthens their ability to pursue extradition of offenders.  The STP also provides for protection of and assistance to the victimized children in the criminal justice process, the best interests of the child being the guiding principle in the children’s judicial treatment. For purposes of prevention and redress of offenses, the victims must have access to procedures to seek compensation for damages from those legally responsible (article 9(4)).  The STP also has provisions on strengthening international cooperation in regard to sex trafficking involving children and on reporting requirements for States Parties (article 12). 

The Child Soldiers Protocol  reaffirms in its Preamble that “the rights of children require special protection,” notes “the harmful and widespread impact of armed conflict on children,” and condemns their being targeted in such situations.  It also refers to inclusion as a war crime in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court “the conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and non-international armed conflicts.”  The Preamble takes note of the definition of a child in article 1 of the CRC and expresses the conviction that raising the age of possible recruitment will contribute effectively to implementing the principle of the best interests of the child as a primary consideration in all actions concerning children.The Child Soldiers Protocol extends the minimum age requirement for direct participation in armed conflict and conscription to eighteen (articles 1 and 2, respectively) and forbids rebel or other non-governmental armed forces “under any circumstances,” to recruit or to use in hostilities persons under that age (article 4).  It does not prescribe the age eighteen minimum for voluntary recruitment, but requires States Parties to raise the minimum age for it from fifteen (as set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the CRC; i.e., to sixteen years of age) and to deposit a binding declaration setting forth the minimum age permitted for voluntary recruitment and describing safeguards adopted to ensure voluntariness (article 3(1-3), in part). The Child Soldiers Protocol requires States Parties to take “all feasible measures to ensure” the demobilization or release from service of children recruited into armed conflict or used in hostilities and, “when necessary,” to accord “all appropriate assistance” for the children’s rehabilitation and social reintegration (article 6(1) and (3)).