A Commentary on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Optional Protocol 2

On the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography


In this commentary, Sabine Witting provides a comprehensive analysis of the Second Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. This commentary critically reflects on the impact of globalisation, digital technologies and the COVID-19 pandemic on the nature, scope and meaning of the Second Optional Protocol since its adoption on 25 May 2000. Apart from analysing a broad range of topics, from online child sexual abuse to surrogacy and ‘voluntourism’, this commentary highlights the importance of establishing child-friendly transnational collaboration mechanisms, conceptualised through a holistic gender lens and taking into consideration the online-offline nexus of violence against children and relevant Global North-Global South dynamics.

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Sabine K. Witting, (Ph.D., Leiden University) is an Assistant Professor at Leiden University, Center for Law and Digital Technologies (eLaw). Her research and teaching focuses on balancing the child’s right to protection from sexual abuse and exploitation with the right to privacy and the rule of law in the digital space. Her dissertation entitled 'Child Sexual Abuse in the Digital Era - Rethinking Legal Frameworks and Transnational Law Enforcement Collaboration’ was published in 2020.
"The book is a comprehensive presentation of the many aspects of the interpretation and implementation of the OPSC, based on the relevant international standards and guidelines, and where appropriate, with critical notes from the author. This commentary should be used by everybody working for the prevention and elimination of all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children."
– Jaap E. Doek, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in: The International Journal of Children's Rights 31(3) (2023)
List of Abbreviations
Author Biography
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

 1 Introduction
  1.1 Background
  1.2 Impact of Globalisation and Digital Technologies
  1.3 Impact of COVID-19
  1.4 Cross-Cutting Themes

 2 Comparison with Related International Human Rights Standards
  2.1 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989
  2.2 Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention (‘Budapest Convention’), 2003
  2.3 Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (‘Lanzarote Convention’), 2007
  2.4 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, 1990
  2.5 African Convention on Personal Data Protection and Cyber Security, 2015
  2.6 Hague Conventions (1980, 1993, 1996)
  2.7 ILO Convention No. 182, 1999

 3 Meaning and Scope
  3.1 Drafting History and Recent Developments
  3.2 Analysis of OPSC Articles

 4 >OPSC in Continuous Need of Review in a Globalised, Digitalised and Rapidly Changing World
This commentary constitutes an essential tool for actors in the field of children’s rights, including academics, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, students, governmental, non-governmental and international officers.
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