Law reform


Many organisations, institutions and experts work to provide information and guidance that are extremely useful to those willing to support or promote a law reform process. This section contains links to documents and websites considered of particular interest for that purpose. You are welcome to contact us to bring other resources to our attention!

Resources for law reform processes and model legislation 

Child protection model law – Best practices: Protection of children from violence, from neglect, abuse, maltreatment and exploitation (2013)

The Child Protection Model Law is published in Arabic, English, Farsi, Russian, and Spanish and consists of articles based on international legal standards and best practices from more than 68 countries and 130 national laws. Topics range from sexual and economic exploitation to protecting children in the justice system. The model law includes a range of child protection measures and children’s access to justice.

Handbook for legislation on violence against women (2012)

The Handbook for Legislation on Violence against Women, prepared by UN Women, serves as a useful tool in supporting efforts to provide justice, support, protection and remedies to victims and to hold perpetrators accountable. It outlines relevant international and regional legal and policy frameworks and presents a model framework for legislation on violence against women and girls. The Handbook also provides a checklist of considerations when drafting legislation on violence against women.

Model law on justice in matters involving child victims and witnesses of crime

To assist States in adapting their national legislation to the provisions contained in the Guidelines and in other relevant international instruments, the Model Law on Justice in Matters involving Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime is a tool for drafting legal provisions concerning assistance to and the protection of child victims and witnesses of crime, particularly within the justice process. It was developed in 2009 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Bureau for Children’s Rights.

Handbook for legislation on violence against women

This Handbook for Legislation on Violence against Women was prepared by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Division for the Advancement of Women (DESA/DAW) in 2009. It is intended to assist States and other stakeholders to enhance existing, or develop new laws to protect women and girls. The recommendations it provides in the model framework for legislation on violence against women serve as a useful tool in supporting efforts to provide justice, support, protection and remedies to victims and to hold perpetrators accountable. The commentaries which accompany the recommendations highlight examples from laws worldwide.

Model law on violence against women and girls – domestic violence

The Model Law on Violence against Women and Girls, prepared by Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies and The Suzanne Mubarak Regional Centre for Women’s Health and Development, is relevant for children as witnesses and victims of domestic violence. In addition to prohibition of domestic violence, the model law includes complaints, judicial proceedings, protection orders, civil claims for compensation, penalties, sanctions and support to victims.

United Nations model strategies and practical measures on the elimination of violence against children in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice

The Model Strategies, which Resolution was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 2014, emphasize the need for Member States to ensure that criminal law is used appropriately and effectively to criminalize various forms of violence against children, including forms of violence prohibited by international law. The Model Strategies and Practical Measures take into consideration the complementary roles of the justice system on the one hand, and the child protection, social welfare, health and education sectors on the other, in creating a protective environment and in preventing and responding to violence against children. The Model Strategies and Practical Measures will enable criminal justice institutions to strengthen and focus their efforts to prevent and respond to violence against children, and to increase their diligence in investigating, convicting and rehabilitating perpetrators of violent crimes against children.

Terminology guidelines (“Luxembourg guidelines”) for the protection of children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse

Over the last decade, people working for the prevention and elimination of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse have had to deal with new terms like grooming, sexting, and live streaming of child sexual abuse. At the same time, terms like child prostitution and child pornography have been more and more criticized and increasingly replaced by alternative terms, considered less harmful or stigmatizing to the child. It was and is not clear if and how these novelties and changes in terminology should lead to different approaches or actions, and there has been a growing concern that changes to existing terms (especially established legal terms) might cause confusion or lack of understanding, and even hinder the effective prevention and elimination of child sexual exploitation, unless this change comes about in a joint and concerted manner by a broad set of child protection actors. The purpose of the Luxembourg Guidelines, adopted by the Interagency Working Group in Luxembourg, 28 January 2016, and published by ECPAT International jointly with ECPAT Luxembourg, is to provide guidance for the understanding and use of the different terms and concepts that different stakeholders encounter in their work, including in law reform processes.

Other relevant resources

Protecting children from harmful practices in plural legal systems, with a special emphasis on Africa (2012) Download

Report by the Council of Europe Commission on Democracy through Law: The protection of Children’s Rights: International standards and domestic constitutions Download

Resources in different regions

Legal analysis on violence against children in ASEAN Member States

Child law resources in Africa

General Comment no 5 on “State Party Obligations under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Article 1) and systems strengthening for child protection

Southern Africa Development Community Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriage

Movimiento Por la Infancia (South America)

Department of International Law, OAS (Latin America)

Current State of Legislation in the Eastern Caribbean & British Overseas Territories