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Children are among those who are most familiar with new technologies. While new technologies offer a myriad of opportunities for children, they also present new risks and threats. Criminal behaviour facilitated by new technologies includes online child abuse material and online sexual exploitation of children. Moreover, information and communication technologies facilitate new forms of criminal behaviour, such as the live streaming of child abuse and the online solicitation of children.

Action of the Special Rapporteur

During the 28th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2015, the Special Rapporteur presented a thematic report on ICTs and the sexual exploitation and sale of children. A statement, a summary of the interactive dialogue with Member States, and a summary of the side event organised on this subject are available through the relevant links.

The Special Rapporteur pursued advocacy efforts on this subject through participation in the morning panel of the Annual day on the rights of the child during the 31st session of the Human Rights Council in March 2016.

The day was dedicated to ICTs and child sexual exploitation. It brought together key stakeholders from different sectors and a summary of the morning and afternoon discussions is available through the relevant links.

Key recommendations from the report propose that Member States:

  • Establish comprehensive legal frameworks by explicitly criminalising specific exploitative activities. The CRC-OPSC provides a minimum standard of protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation and should be universally ratified. Regional instruments such as the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse offer additional protection, e.g. through the criminalisation of exploitative activities and the provision of additional procedural rights to the child victims.
  • Enhance international cooperation to investigate and prosecute sexual exploitation and sale of children online by expanding and strengthening existing initiatives such as the Virtual Global Taskforce, the #WePROTECT Children Online initiative and the Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online.  
  • Create a global permanent multi-stakeholder body to harmonize practices and procedures, share expertise and scale up good practices, and provide technical assistance and capacity-building to States for the development of legislation, policies and strategies to effectively combat and prevent sexual exploitation and sale of children online.
  • Empower children and youth through awareness raising and training on the safe use of new technologies and social media, and the creation of child-friendly helplines and hotlines to report online abuse and exploitation.
  • Enhance corporate social responsibility involving Internet service and content providers, telecommunications, financial companies and the media in order to strengthen child safety online through prevention and protection programmes.

The Special Rapporteur is advocating for the implementation of these recommendations through her active involvement in various initiatives, such as the #WePROTECT Children Online initiative. She also promotes the inclusion of the fight against sexual exploitation and sale of children online in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Lastly, the Special Rapporteur endeavours to work with different UN bodies and she thus co-hosted with the International Telecommunication Union a thematic workshop during the World Summit on the Information Society Forum in May 2016. The workshop was called “Child Online Protection: The Road Ahead Emerging Trends and Technologies.” A summary of the workshop as well as its webcast are available through the relevant links.

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