Optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Three optional protocols have been added to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UN General Assembly adopted two of them in May 2000. The protocols apply to children’s involvement in armed conflict as well as the selling of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of children in armed conflict entered into force in Finland in 2002 (SopS 30 and 31/2002). The Protocol reinforces the implementation of the rights protected by the Convention: it protects all persons under 18 years of age from involvement in armed conflict more effectively than before. The minimum age of conscription and participation in hostilities was raised from 15 to 18 years. Among other things, the Protocol obliges the signatory states to provide help, if necessary, for the rehabilitation of victims of actions against the protocol, as well the social reintegration of the victims.
The Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography entered into force in Finland in 2012 (SopS 40 and 41/2012). The protocol obliges the signatory states to prohibit the sale of children as well as the exploitation of children in prostitution and pornography. It includes provisions on matters such as the scope of criminal law, international cooperation, as well as protecting the rights and best interest of child victims during the different stages of a trial.
The Optional Protocol on a communications procedure was adopted by the UN General Assembly in May 2011. Finland signed it in February 2012. The protocol entered into force on 12 February 2016 (SopS 4 and 5/2016). According to the protocol, children and groups of children within the jurisdiction of a signatory state have the right to submit a complaint, if they feel that a signatory state has violated their rights recognised by the Convention or its optional protocols. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child will issue a statement and, if necessary, recommendations on the basis of complaints that it accepts for investigation. In addition, the Protocol provides for issues such as inter-state communications, in which a State party to the Protocol claims that another State party is not fulfilling its obligations under the Convention or the Optional Protocols mentioned above.