International Legal Framework to Address Online Child Sexual Exploitation

Topic Progress:

The nature of the Internet makes cyber crimes such as Online Child Sexual Exploitation a global problem.

The internet allows child sex offenders to exploit children transnationally, creating complications for law enforcement and require collaboration with international forces in investigation processes. Adopting international protocols and legislation, as well as collaborating with international law enforcement for investigations is an important step in combating OCSE.

In order to tackle sexual exploitation of children worldwide, different international legal instruments were developed aiming to prevent the sexual abuse and exploitation of children of all forms. The legal frameworks were developed to serve as strong recommendations for all states to adopt in order to criminalise and punish offenders of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

The main international treaties with relevant legal framework related to the issue of online child sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse material are:

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC)

The Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (The Lanzarote Convention)

The Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime (The Budapest Convention)

International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour

Reading assignment

Please read the factsheets made by ECPAT International on the different legal frameworks related to OCSE:

1. OPSC:

2. The Lanzarote Convention

3. The Budapest Convention:

4. The ILO Convention:

Reflection Questions:

1. What is the importance of countries ratifying the different conventions? How does a unified approach to the criminalisation of OCSE help in prevention efforts?

2. Each factsheet discusses the different weaknesses of the treaties involved. How do these weaknesses affect the combat against OCSE? What more needs to be done to strengthen legislation regarding OCSE?  

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