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United Nations Blockchain Pilot Aims to Crush Global Child Trafficking

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:01 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:01 PM

Two United Nations agencies have partnered the World Identity Network (WIN) to launch a blockchain pilot to help combat child trafficking around the world.

Announced during the Humanitarian Blockchain Summit  in New York last week, the blockchain pilot stems from a collaborative effort between the World Identity Network, a universal ID advocacy group; the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) the UN’s operational arm to implement and carry out UN operations globally and; the United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology (UN-OICT).

Digital identity on a blockchain could mean a “significantly higher chance of catching traffickers” by securing data on an immutable ledger, a release explains, stating trafficking attempts would be “more traceable and preventable,” an accompanying press release  added.

Nearly 50% of the world’s children under the age of 5 do not possess a birth certificate, according to UN statistics. So does an estimated 600 million children under the age of 14, a majority of them among the world’s poorest nations, leaving all of them “invisible” to their countries’ governments. These children go unseen by social programs or development agencies, leaving them vulnerable to child traffickers.

Human traffickers use fake identification documents to transport children and minors, without an official identity, across borders. These children are then sold into sex brothels, slavery rings and even illegal human organ trade, with young women and girls targeted most often.

The solution, according to WIN CEO and co-founder Dr. Mariana Dahan is securing their identification.

“Several developing countries are actively looking at more efficient ways to prevent child trafficking,” she stated.  “Identification is always at the heart of the solution.”

UN assistant secretary general and UN women deputy executive director Yannick Glemarec underlined the necessity of the blockchain pilot, stating:

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.

The three bodies are also looking for new partners to support the initiative with the launch of a ‘Global Challenge ’ to foster the ‘best ideas and expertise in using the blockchain technology’ for the cause. Addressing privacy concerns and proper identity management are among the core burdens placed on new partners seeking to collaborate with the UN agencies.

In a similar effort, Microsoft is currently developing a blockchain digital ID platform to provide legal identification for over a billion people, including refugees, around the world.

Featured image from Shutterstock.