United Nations

United Nations to Launch Blockchain Pilot to Fight Child Trafficking

Blockchain technologies have revolutionized various spheres of commercial and economic operations around the world. But blockchain has immeasurable potential for various other applications. The United Nations(UN) has announced during the Humanitarian Blockchain Summit in New York this week that it seeks to explore this potential to combat child trafficking.

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology (UN-OICT) are teaming up with the World Identity Network(WIN) to launch an innovative pilot initiative for this project, as part of a broader effort titled ‘Blockchain for Humanity'.

According to United Nations statistics, close to half of the world's children under the age of five do not have a birth certificate. The global estimates for children under the age of 14 exceed 600 million children worldwide and a vast majority of them live in the world's poorest countries. As a consequence, these children are literally invisible to governments or development agencies that design and deliver social programs.

Speaking of the pilot initiative, Dr. Mariana Dahan, co-founder and CEO of WIN said of the dangers faced by children and minors without documentation, “Invisible children are children at risk. Several developing countries are actively looking at more efficient ways to prevent child trafficking. Identification is always at the heart of the solution.”

As these Children do not possess legitimate documents, they fall prey to human traffickers, who use fake identification documents to transport these children across borders. These Children are then sold to various illegal activities such as sex brothels, slavery rings and human organ trade.

By using digital identity on the blockchain, thereby making trafficking attempts more traceable, there is a significantly increased chance of apprehending traffickers and immutably securing documentation of these children.

According to Yannick Glemarec, UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, “Child trafficking is one of the greatest human rights abuses. Leveraging blockchain technology offers potentially powerful solutions to address this serious challenge and save the lives of millions of children.”

Yochiyuki Yamamoto, Special Advisor for UN Engagement and Blockchain Technology, opines that this initiative could be as impactful an application as any of blockchain technologies, “We're particularly excited about this innovative pilot initiative, since child trafficking is one of the worst example of a crime against humanity. Leveraging blockchain technology for the social good is something that the international community is striving for and we're delighted to partner with WIN on this critical initiative.”

How You Can Participate and Make a Difference?

The UN has opened up a competition challenging blockchain developers and thinkers to find a way to use blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) against child trafficking.

To join the competition, you must devise a detailed project concept answering the question, “How can blockchain technology be used to help prevent child trafficking in Moldova?”

Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, has been trying to stop child trafficking for decades. The Government of Moldova is an official partner in this Global Challenge, believing that this breakthrough technology can be leveraged beyond commercial applications, for the social good.

To learn more about the competition, visit the UN’s dedicated page for the Blockchain for Humanity Global Challenge. Entries will be accepted until January 10, 2018.

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