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


The Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography is one of the thematic special procedures overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The mandate holder addresses the root causes of the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography and works to identify and promote the best practices for combatting these serious problems. The rehabilitation of child victims of sexual exploitation is an area of special focus for the Special Rapporteur, who relies on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography for guidance in his or her work.

The Special Rapporteur must apply a gender perspective throughout the work of his or her mandate.


The mandate of the Special Rapporteur lasts for a period of three years. The mandate is filled by one highly-qualified individual.

The UN Commission on Human Rights established the Special Rapporteurship in 1990 with Resolution 1990/68. The Human Rights Council extended its mandate in 2008 (Resolution 7/13), 2011 (Resolution 16/12), and 2014 (Resolution 25/6).

In fulfilling the obligations of this special procedure, the mandate holder may: undertake country visits, consider individual complaints, submit allegation letters and urgent appeals to States concerning specific situations, and submit activity reports to the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council.

Country Visits

The Special Rapporteur undertakes an average of two country visits per year, on the basis of an invitation from the country concerned. Past reports of the Working Group on its country visits can be viewed here.

Country visits provide the Special Rapporteur an opportunity to engage governments, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society in constructive dialogue about the causes and strategies for elimination of the sexual exploitation of children. This dialogue enables the Special Rapporteur to identify best practices on measures to combat the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. Following each country visit, the Special Rapporteur reports his or her findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

More than 100 countries have extended standing invitations to country visits by all thematic special procedures. View the list of countries that have extended standing invitations here.

Individual Complaints

The Special Rapporteur receives information from governments, UN bodies, specialized agencies, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and individuals about the alleged violation of children’s rights through sexual exploitation. The Special Rapporteur generally takes action if the information relates to the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography, trafficking and sexual abuse, and situations in which a child is at risk of becoming a victim of one of these offenses.

Importantly, the Special Rapporteur does not issue decisions concerning individual complaints and cannot require the State to remedy any alleged violation; rather, the Special Rapporteur raises the issue of concern with the relevant State.

In response to complaints, the Special Rapporteur may contact the government concerned to invite comment, seek clarification, remind the government of its international obligations, or request information on steps being taken by the government to investigate redress the situation. He or she may also write to the government jointly with other special procedures mandate holders. Generally called “communications,” these exchanges with the government can take a variety of forms of varying degrees of significance. Specifically, the Special Rapporteur contacts a government through either an allegation letter or an urgent appeal.

In all of its communications, the Special Rapporteur is careful not to draw any conclusions about the facts of the case. Instead, the Special Rapporteur simply presses for the government to ensure that the rights of children are not violated.

The communications sent by all special procedures are compiled in periodic reports submitted to the UN Human Rights Council at each of its sessions.

Allegation Letters

Generally, the Special Rapporteur sends an allegation letter in circumstances where the alleged violation has already occurred, relates to a general pattern of violations, or is not so pressing as to warrant sending an urgent appeal. An allegation letter generally contains a request for the government to clarify the substance of the allegation and to forward any information related to the allegation to the Special Rapporteur.

Urgent Appeals

The urgent appeals procedure is reserved for cases in which there are sufficiently reliable allegations that the situation is time-sensitive in terms of loss of life, life-threatening situations, or imminent or ongoing damage of a grave nature. If it appears that the allegation letters procedure is unlikely to address the situation in a timely enough manner, the Special Rapporteur will send an urgent appeal to the government concerned.

Reports to the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council

The Special Rapporteur reports annually to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly on all of its activities relating to the mandate. These reports are available on the Special Rapporteur’s Thematic Reports webpage.


Complaints should be submitted via the online submission form. When submitting a complaint, it is important to include the information requested on the Special Rapporteur’s information sheet questionnaire, including:

  • general information about the incident, such as the number and nationality of the alleged victims and the country or countries in which the incident took place,
  • identity of the persons concerned, such as their name, sex, age, nationality, and ethnic background (if relevant),
  • description of the alleged violation, such as the alleged perpetrator(s) and the date, place, and time of the incident(s),
  • steps taken by the victim(s) or on their behalf, steps taken by authorities, and any other steps that have been taken and their outcomes,
  • identity and contact information of the person or institution submitting the complaint, and
  • whether any information contained in the complaint should be kept confidential.

The Special Rapporteur may also be contacted by:

  • Mail:

Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography
c/o Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
CH-1211 Geneva 10

  • Fax: +41 22 917 90 06