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Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

Please, read the general remarks about the special procedures first.

Rights and Intended Situations

On 20 November 1989, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This international instrument recognizes "that in all countries in the world, there are children living in exceptionally difficult conditions, and that such children need special consideration". By 2005, over 15 years after its adoption, almost every country in the world has signed and agreed to be bound by the provisions of the Convention.

Link to the Convention on the Rights of the Child:

By 1990, international awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation and the sale of children had grown to such a level that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights created the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. The mandate-holder is required to investigate the exploitation of children around the world and to submit reports on the findings to the General Assembly and the
Human Rights Council, making recommendations for the protection of the rights of the children concerned. These recommendations are targeted primarily at governments, other United Nations bodies and NGOs.

Implementation of the Procedure

A document containing indications on how to present a complaint before the Special Rapporteur on children can be found here:

Filing a Complaint

The complaint must at least contain the following information:

  • Identity of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the inquiry;
  • Full name, age, sex and place of residence or origin of the supposed victim;
  • Indication of as many details as possible (name, age, sex and place of residence or origin) if it refers to a group or community;
  • Date and place of the incident (approximately, if the exact date is unknown)
  • Detailed description of the circumstances of the incident under which the presumed violation took place;
  • Identity of the suspect(s) (name if known, title/position, presumed motivation);
  • As the case may be, measures taken at the national level (for example, if the police had been informed, in case that other national authorities are involved, as well as a possible position of the government);
  • As the case may be, measures taken at the international level (for example, if other mechanisms have been called up)

Information and complaints can be submitted (specifying the pertinent special procedure) to:

Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 90 06
E-Mail: urgent-action(at)
(please include as subject line: Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography)

Consequences of the Complaint

Once the Special Rapporteur received credible information concerning exploitation of children, he can address a communication, generally in form of a letter submitted by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to the government concerned asking it to give information concerning the allegation and to take preventive measures or to initiate an investigation. The communications can deal with cases of individuals, groups or communities, the general trends and development of human rights violations in certain countries as well as draft law or law in force subjected to apprehension. The communications are generally made in form of “urgent appeals” or “letters of allegation”. When there are multiple mandates for one case, the Special Rapporteur can submit joint communications.

“Urgent appeals” are used to provide information concerning current or imminent violations. They are submitted to inform the competent authorities as quickly as possible so that these can intervene to stop the human rights violation or to prevent it.

“Letters of allegation” are used to provide information concerning violations which have already taken place and which have had irreversible consequences for the supposed victim. This type of communication is used, for example, when the Special Rapporteur receives information on violations which have already been committed. With both types of communication, the Special Rapporteur asks the concerned government to take all appropriate measures to investigate and remedy the alleged violations and to submit the results of its intervention. According to the response, the Special Rapporteur can decide to pursue the investigation or to give recommendations.

Last change: 18.12.08 - 22:58