Sale of Children and Trafficking in Children as International Crimes

  • Maud de Boer-BuquicchioEmail author
Living reference work entry


Trafficking in and sale of children are among the worst crimes against children brought to the forefront at varying degrees in the last few decades. Both crimes are very similar, though not identical. Hence, it is important to look at the issues from this dual perspective. This contribution highlights some forms of child abuse that are facilitated through or amounting to the sale of children for different purposes, including, sexual exploitation, prostitution, forced labor, and child marriage, to name a few.

The contribution makes the point that the eradication of all forms of abuse, violence, and exploitation of children will depend on how the underpinning causes of the demand for the sale and sexual exploitation of children are being addressed by every single society across the world. The social, cultural, gender, and institutional constructs that foster the conditions in which the sexual exploitation of children is ignored, tolerated, or even accepted must be tackled as a matter of priority in the long run. In addition, accountability mechanism and preventions strategies must be put in place for both in order to eradicate the abuses. Without these profound human rights-based and child-centered reforms, we will be unable to provide a brighter future to our children.


Human trafficking Sale of children Child marriage Child prostitution Forced labor Illegal adoption SDGs Sexual exploitation Commercial surrogacy Information and communication technology 


  1. Catherine Turner, “Out of the shadows. Child marriage and slavery”, Anti-Slavery International (London, April 2013).Google Scholar
  2. UNICEF, Uprooted, p. 38Google Scholar
  3. S/2017/249Google Scholar
  4. A/HRC/32/CRP.2Google Scholar
  5. UNICEF, “Neither safe nor sound: unaccompanied children on the coastline of the English Channel and the North Sea”, June 2016, p. 80.Google Scholar
  6. Annual Report 2017 Internet Watch FoundationGoogle Scholar
  7. ILO, “Global estimate of forced labour: results and methodology” (Geneva, 2012).Google Scholar
  8. UNODC, “Global report on trafficking in persons, 2014” (Vienna, 2014).Google Scholar
  9. ILO, “Ending child labour in domestic work and protecting young workers from abusive working conditions” (Geneva, 2013).Google Scholar
  10. ILO, “Analytical study on child labour in Volta Lake fishing in Ghana” (August 2013).Google Scholar
  11. Paul Robson, “Ending child trafficking in West Africa. Lessons from the Ivorian cocoa sector”, Anti-Slavery International (London, December 2010).Google Scholar
  12. Europol, “Child trafficking for exploitation in forced criminal activities and forced begging” (The Hague, October 2014).Google Scholar
  13. ECPAT UK, “Safeguarding children trafficked to the UK to work in cannabis factories” (2011).Google Scholar
  14. UNICEF, Uprooted, 2016, p. 38.Google Scholar
  15. A/HRC/29/38, para. 20.Google Scholar
  16. A/HRC/32/19Google Scholar
  17. A/HRC/19/63Google Scholar
  18. Anna Childs, “Why child trafficking spikes after natural disasters: and what we can do about it”, 22 March 2016. Available from
  19. European Police Office (Europol) and International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), “Migrant smuggling networks: joint Europol-INTERPOL report”, May 2016b, p. 9.Google Scholar
  20. SHS/CCT/2006/PI/H/2–UNESCO published Policy Paper no. 14.2(E), Human trafficking in Nigeria – root causes and recommendations, Pg 31Google Scholar
  21. E/CN/RES/1990/68Google Scholar
  22. Resolution 1990/68 and Resolution 1990/68 (E/CN4/RES/1990/68)Google Scholar
  23. A/HRC/RES/34/16Google Scholar
  24. E/CN4/RES/1990/68Google Scholar
  25. Jan 2018: Study on surrogacy and sale of children, and recommendations on how to uphold the prohibition of, and how to prevent, the sale of children. (A/HRC/37/60)Google Scholar
  26. July 2017: Study on the vulnerabilities of children to sale, trafficking, and other forms of exploitation in situations of conflict and humanitarian crisis. (A/72/164)Google Scholar
  27. Dec 2016: Study on illegal adoptions and recommendations on how to prevent and combat that phenomenon. (A/HRC/34/55)Google Scholar
  28. August 2016: Sale of children for the purpose of forced labour and proposes comprehensive measures to combat this phenomenon. (A/71/261)Google Scholar
  29. Dec 2015: Tackling the demand for the sexual exploitation of children and recommendations to reduce and eradicate the demand through prevention, accountability, and rehabilitation measures. (A/HRC/31/58)Google Scholar
  30. July 2015: Effects of the sale and sexual exploitation of children on child victims and advocates for the establishment of comprehensive, rights-based, and child-centered care, recovery, and reintegration programmes as part of effective national child protection systems. (A/70/222)Google Scholar
  31. Dec 2014: Issue of information and communication technologies and the sale and sexual exploitation of children. (A/HRC/28/56)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of ChildrenStrasbourgFrance

Personalised recommendations