A boy holding an AK-47 in the back of a
truck in Sana'a, Yemen
Two of the highest international standards for child protection
Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly
in May 2000. After six years of negotiations involving governments,
NGOs and UN agencies, these amendments to the Convention addressed
two egregious assaults on children: involving children in armed
conflict; and the sale of children, child prostitution and child
With an estimated 300,000 children engaged in combat, the Optional
Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict emphasizes
the establishment of 18 as the minimum age for compulsory recruitment.
As of 3 August, 81 countries have signed this protocol and 4 countries
have ratified it.
About 1 million children mainly girls suffer the
degradation and life-threatening risk of the commercial sex trade.
The Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution
and child pornography emphasizes the criminalization of these
abuses, an increased public awareness and international cooperation
to stop these atrocities. As of 3 August, 74 countries have signed
this protocol and 4 countries have ratified it.
These two protocols represent a giant step forward for children's
rights. Ten ratifications are needed to make each protocol legally