Convention on the Rights of the Child, Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution & Child Pornography (2000) (Illustrated by © Smash Street)


Article 1  

States Parties shall prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography as provided for by the present Protocol.

Article 2  

For the purposes of the present Protocol:  

(a) Sale of children means any act or transaction whereby a child is transferred by any person or group of persons to another for remuneration or any other consideration;  

(b) Child prostitution means the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration;  

(c) Child pornography means any representation, by whatever means, of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes.

Article 3

1. Each State Party shall ensure that, as a minimum, the following acts and activities are fully covered under its criminal or penal law, whether such offences are committed domestically or transnationally or on an individual or organized basis:  

(a) In the context of sale of children as defined in article 2:  

(i) Offering, delivering or accepting, by whatever means, a child for the purpose of: 

a. Sexual exploitation of the child; 

b. Transfer of organs of the child for profit;  

c. Engagement of the child in forced labour;  

(ii) Improperly inducing consent, as an intermediary, for the adoption of a child in violation of applicable international legal instruments on adoption; 

(b) Offering, obtaining, procuring or providing a child for child prostitution, as defined in article 2;  

(c) Producing, distributing, disseminating, importing, exporting, offering, selling or possessing for the above purposes child pornography as defined in article 2.

2. Subject to the provisions of the national law of a State Party, the same shall apply to an attempt to commit any of the said acts and to complicity or participation in any of the said acts.

3. Each State Party shall make such offences punishable by appropriate penalties that take into account their grave nature.

4. Subject to the provisions of its national law, each State Party shall take measures, where appropriate, to establish the liability of legal persons for offences established in paragraph 1 of the present article. Subject to the legal principles of the State Party, such liability of legal persons may be criminal, civil or administrative.

5. States Parties shall take all appropriate legal and administrative measures to ensure that all persons involved in the adoption of a child act in conformity with applicable international legal instruments.

Article 4

1. Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offences referred to in article 3, paragraph 1, when the offences are commited in its territory or on board a ship or aircraft registered in that State.

2. Each State Party may take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offences referred to in article 3, paragraph 1, in the following cases:  

(a) When the alleged offender is a national of that State or a person who has his habitual residence in its territory;  

(b) When the victim is a national of that State.

3. Each State Party shall also take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the aforementioned offences when the alleged offender is present in its territory and it does not extradite him or her to another State Party on the ground that the offence has been committed by one of its nationals.

4. The present Protocol does not exclude any criminal jurisdiction exercised in accordance with internal law.

Article 5

1. The offences referred to in article 3, paragraph 1, shall be deemed to be included as extraditable offences in any extradition treaty existing between States Parties and shall be included as extraditable offences in every extradition treaty subsequently concluded between them, in accordance with the conditions set forth in such treaties.

2. If a State Party that makes extradition conditional on the existence of a treaty receives a request for extradition from another State Party with which it has no extradition treaty, it may consider the present Protocol to be a legal basis for extradition in respect of such offences. Extradition shall be subject to the conditions provided by the law of the requested State.

3. States Parties that do not make extradition conditional on the existence of a treaty shall recognize such offences as extraditable offences between themselves subject to the conditions provided by the law of the requested State.

4. Such offences shall be treated, for the purpose of extradition between States Parties, as if they had been committed not only in the place in which they occurred but also in the territories of the States required to establish their jurisdiction in accordance with article 4.

5. If an extradition request is made with respect to an offence described in article 3, paragraph 1, and the requested State Party does not or will not extradite on the basis of the nationality of the offender, that State shall take suitable measures to submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution. 

Article 6

1. States Parties shall afford one another the greatest measure of assistance in connection with investigations or criminal or extradition proceedings brought in respect of the offences set forth in article 3, paragraph 1, including assistance in obtaining evidence at their disposal necessary for the proceedings.

2. States Parties shall carry out their obligations under paragraph 1 of the present article in conformity with any treaties or other arrangements on mutual legal assistance that may exist between them. In the absence of such treaties or arrangements, States Parties shall afford one another assistance in accordance with their domestic law.

Article 7  

States Parties shall, subject to the provisions of their national law:  

(a) Take measures to provide for the seizure and confiscation, as appropriate, of:  

(i) Goods, such as materials, assets and other instrumentalities used to commit or facilitate offences under the present protocol;  

(ii) Proceeds derived from such offences;

 (b) Execute requests from another State Party for seizure or confiscation of goods or proceeds referred to in subparagraph (a);  

(c) Take measures aimed at closing, on a temporary or definitive basis, premises used to commit such offences

Article 8

1. States Parties shall adopt appropriate measures to protect the rights and interests of child victims of the practices prohibited under the present Protocol at all stages of the criminal justice process, in particular by:  

(a) Recognizing the vulnerability of child victims and adapting procedures to recognize their special needs, including their special needs as witnesses;  

(b) Informing child victims of their rights, their role and the scope, timing and progress of the proceedings and of the disposition of their cases;  

(c) Allowing the views, needs and concerns of child victims to be presented and considered in proceedings where their personal interests are affected, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law;

(d) Providing appropriate support services to child victims throughout the legal process;  

(e) Protecting, as appropriate, the privacy and identity of child victims and taking measures in accordance with national law to avoid the inappropriate dissemination of information that could lead to the identification of child victims;  

(f) Providing, in appropriate cases, for the safety of child victims, as well as that of their families and witnesses on their behalf, from intimidation and retaliation;  

(g) Avoiding unnecessary delay in the disposition of cases and the execution of orders or decrees granting compensation to child victims.

2. States Parties shall ensure that uncertainty as to the actual age of the victim shall not prevent the initiation of criminal investigations, including investigations aimed at establishing the age of the victim.

3. States Parties shall ensure that, in the treatment by the criminal justice system of children who are victims of the offences described in the present Protocol, the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration.

4. States Parties shall take measures to ensure appropriate training, in particular legal and psychological training, for the persons who work with victims of the offences prohibited under the present Protocol.

5. States Parties shall, in appropriate cases, adopt measures in order to protect the safety and integrity of those persons and/or organizations involved in the prevention and/or protection and rehabilitation of victims of such offences.

6. Nothing in the present article shall be construed to be prejudicial to or inconsistent with the rights of the accused to a fair and impartial trial. 

Article 9

1. States Parties shall adopt or strengthen, implement and disseminate laws, administrative measures, social policies and programmes to prevent the offences referred to in the present Protocol. Particular attention shall be given to protect children who are especially vulnerable to such practices.

2. States Parties shall promote awareness in the public at large, including children, through information by all appropriate means, education and training, about the preventive measures and harmful effects of the offences referred to in the present Protocol. In fulfilling their obligations under this article, States Parties shall encourage the participation of the community and, in particular, children and child victims, in such information and education and training programmes, including at the international level.

3. States Parties shall take all feasible measures with the aim of ensuring all appropriate assistance to victims of such offences, including their full social reintegration and their full physical and psychological recovery.

4. States Parties shall ensure that all child victims of the offences described in the present Protocol have access to adequate procedures to seek, without discrimination, compensation for damages from those legally responsible.

5. States Parties shall take appropriate measures aimed at effectively prohibiting the production and dissemination of material advertising the offences described in the present Protocol. 

Article 10

1. States Parties shall take all necessary steps to strengthen international cooperation by multilateral, regional and bilateral arrangements for the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution and punishment of those responsible for acts involving the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and child sex tourism. States Parties shall also promote international cooperation and coordination between their authorities, national and international non-governmental organizations and international organizations.

2. States Parties shall promote international cooperation to assist child victims in their physical and psychological recovery, social reintegration and repatriation.

3. States Parties shall promote the strengthening of international cooperation in order to address the root causes, such as poverty and underdevelopment, contributing to the vulnerability of children to the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and child sex tourism.

4. States Parties in a position to do so shall provide financial, technical or other assistance through existing multilateral, regional, bilateral or other programmes.

Article 11  

Nothing in the present Protocol shall affect any provisions that are more conducive to the realization of the rights of the child and that may be contained in:  

(a) The law of a State Party;  

(b) International law in force for that State.  

Article 12

1. Each State Party shall, within two years following the entry into force of the present Protocol for that State Party, submit a report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child providing comprehensive information on the measures it has taken to implement the provisions of the Protocol.

2. Following the submission of the comprehensive report, each State Party shall include in the reports they submit to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, in accordance with article 44 of the Convention, any further information with respect to the implementation of the present Protocol. Other States Parties to the Protocol shall submit a report every five years.

3. The Committee on the Rights of the Child may request from States Parties further information relevant to the implementation of the present Protocol.  

Article 13

1. The present Protocol is open for signature by any State that is a party to the Convention or has signed it.

2. The present Protocol is subject to ratification and is open to accession by any State that is a party to the Convention or has signed it. Instruments of ratification or accession shall be deposited with the Secretary- General of the United Nations.  

Article 14

1. The present Protocol shall enter into force three months after the deposit of the tenth instrument of ratification or accession.

2. For each State ratifying the present Protocol or acceding to it after its entry into force, the Protocol shall enter into force one month after the date of the deposit of its own instrument of ratification or accession.  

Article 15

1. Any State Party may denounce the present Protocol at any time by written notification to the Secretary- General of the United Nations, who shall thereafter inform the other States Parties to the Convention and all States that have signed the Convention. The denunciation shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of the notification by the Secretary-General.

2. Such a denunciation shall not have the effect of releasing the State Party from its obligations under the present Protocol in regard to any offence that occurs prior to the date on which the denunciation becomes effective. Nor shall such a denunciation prejudice in any way the continued consideration of any matter that is already under consideration by the Committee on the Rights of the Child prior to the date on which the denunciation becomes effective.  

Article 16

1. Any State Party may propose an amendment and file it with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Secretary-General shall thereupon communicate the proposed amendment to States Parties with a request that they indicate whether they favour a conference of States Parties for the purpose of considering and voting upon the proposals. In the event that, within four months from the date of such communication, at least one third of the States Parties favour such a conference, the Secretary-General shall convene the conference under the auspices of the United Nations. Any amendment adopted by a majority of States Parties present and voting at the conference shall be submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations for approval.

2. An amendment adopted in accordance with paragraph 1 of the present article shall enter into force when it has been approved by the General Assembly and accepted by a two-thirds majority of States Parties.

3. When an amendment enters into force, it shall be binding on those States Parties that have accepted it, other States Parties still being bound by the provisions of the present Protocol and any earlier amendments they have accepted.  

Article 17

1. The present Protocol, of which the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the United Nations.

2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit certified copies of the present Protocol to all States Parties to the Convention and all States that have signed the Convention.

Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (2000).

In 2016 twenty-five United Nations Member States have not ratified this significant Optional Protocol on Convention on the Rights of Child. The UN defines 'Child' as any person under the age of 18 years old.

173 State Parties have ratified the treaty.

9 State Parties are signatories, yet to ratify the treaty.

16 State Parties have taken no action to sign or ratify the treaty.

Alarmingly, many countries that have ratified the document, such as the United States of America, have not implemented a coordinated and Federal response that serves the children's best interests.

UNNECESSARY SUFFERING: The children are exposed to HIV/AIDS-defining cancers and opportunistic infections, and abandoned to find ways to alleviate their trauma without the assistance of prescription pain-relief drugs. Due to a dire lack of safe house programs that serve each child's best interests, it is frequently their peers who are left to hold them and watch them die prematurely.

Survivor-led and peer-mentored safe houses and programs serve the children's best interests after everything that has been done to them and they have had to do to survive. 


Why would anyone sane take in a child with AIDS?

Because one comes to you.  Because he is asking you to take him in. Because you can.

Sometimes I think I am insane.

It terrifies me to tell this story.  I am afraid.  I am afraid of dragons.

I am afraid of losing my mind.  I want something no one is allowed to have.

I want the mad ones.  The children mad enough to struggle and survive.  I want the children who have seen war.  The children mad enough to question everything.  The children who have had everything taken away from them.  The children who are broken and mad enough to attempt to repair themselves.  The children mad enough to spit and fight.  Mad enough to laugh outrageously.  Mad enough to make a music of their own.  Mad enough to see themselves as individuals. I want children who will dance in rain.  I want the mad crazy ones.  I want the ones insane enough to love hard, and brave enough to be vulnerable.

I do not know where this story begins. Or ends.

I was out of my mind to do it. The child was sick. I did try to say no.

I am haunted by deep, electric flashes of music, memory, dragons and madness.

Tristan is no longer with us. He wanted very much to show us his life. But that life only had a limited run. 

He was a sex worker. It defined him. But it also killed him. 

“We love our children.”

Children have very few rights. 

If I could change anything, I would change that. 

Tristan was young. The tricks (seemingly straight men most of whom had families and children Tristan’s age) like their boys young. Such boys are exploited, abused, addicted, forced into sexual situations they are not equipped to handle, bought and paid for, trafficked, fucked in the mouth, fucked in the ass, torn apart, denied a childhood, frequently murdered, at high risk for HIV infection, denied access to an education, kicked out of schools, kicked out of families, incarcerated in institutions where they are raped, forced to turn to survival sex, and when they’re sick, they turn to the only family they have: other sex workers, junkies, pimps, and drug dealers. Many commit suicide. For some, HIV/AIDS is suicide. 

The story of how boys are bought and sold and sold out belongs to him. The story of their destruction belongs to him. Tristan was dark and disturbed. He had been twisted around by tricks and men. Tristan is dead because the world fucked him inside and out. Yet, he was a kid. Like any other kid. He had dreams and ambition and he was smart. Smart enough to survive living on his own in a very adult, abusive environment. He had scores of friends. “Just us whores,” is how Tristan put it. He was always with a camera and photographed his world. Jumping onto subway tracks. Crawling out onto roofs. To get the shot he wanted. 

When visiting (Tristan was a regular) Hôpital Européen Georges-Pompidou, he was never without a camera. Tristan frequently went with his friends (as support).  They were still tricking and heavy into drugs. Big Girl drugs like heroin. Some of these boys were thirteen. When they were being diagnosed. At the very moment of being told they were infected with HIV, Tristan would take a photograph capturing the agony on each face. They WANTED him to be there. With his camera. I think basically because it was some kind of strange record. A record that said: we were here. The photographs Tristan took are still very difficult for me to look at. Whoredrama. You get it or you don’t. You survive it or you don’t. 

Photography/ Poetry/ Video are only representations. They can take many forms and each is merely the shadow of a life. It is not a life. Tristan wanted people to know something about the anguish he had endured. I cannot say that has been captured. I often go out of my way to tone the shadows down. To make it palatable for you. How many pieces of videoART and photographic collages have to be made before we admit there are children our culture abandons and treats like trash.

Treatment is not the issue. The issue is surviving the treatment. HIV-related cancers are treated like any other cancer. Tristan always volunteered his time on a variety of wards. He did things like read to kids whose vision had become a trainwreck. This can happen from pneumocystis as well. Your vision becomes impaired. He would arrive home after a day of being at the Pompidou and he was just quiet. Never said a word for a few hours and then he’d explode. “I tell kids they are not alone,” he’d weep. “But they are alone.”

I was the one left to watch Tristan die of AIDS. I was the one who held him. 

I Changed His Name. I Changed Who he Was. In fact, I did Change Him, too. I Would do it Again.  And do here and now.

They tell me not to sell off pieces of the past, but the past is nothing I can hang on to.

I want the past to propel us into the future.

Right here, right now.

This is what Tristan would have wanted.

“Sell my stuff,” he’d say.

And he would not hesitate to say it.

The sale of Tristan’s sketchbook the 30 printed and framed images from the Tristan's Moon art installation, will propel dozens of kids living today at the edges of existence into our peer mentored art program: “I believe you: Show Me Your Life.”

For further information please contact: 





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