A pilot project by the World Identity Network (WIN), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology (UN-OICT) is campaigning to help fight child trafficking around the world. The project was announced at the Humanitarian Blockchain Summit and is part of a broader effort called Blockchain for Humanity.
The pilot will attempt to document children born in the world’s poorest countries as nearly 50 percent of young people under five do not have birth certificates. Without these government identifiers, these children are not seen by governments around the world and become easy prey for child traffickers.
These invisible children are at the highest risk for abduction and trafficking. Countries around the world are examining more efficient ways of identifying and solving this problem.
Abducted children are often sold to illegal brothels as slaves, or traded on underground markets for organ harvesting. Both boys and young girls are affected by human trafficking, but a larger percentage of girls are abducted.
The idea is to create a digital identity within the blockchain that will cause more difficulty for traffickers and allow the tracking of these children, even once they are abducted. The open ledger will be unchangeable and difficult to hack. A digital identity will thus thwart identity tampering in many corrupt national archives and prevent overlooking individual characters.
If the results of this initiative prove decisive, they may contribute to other UN agencies as well. Yannick Glemarec, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, had this to say:
“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.”
Others in the UN are also excited about the promise of applying the blockchain to solve these issues. Yoshiyuki Yamamoto, Special Advisor for UN Engagement and Blockchain Technology, in particular, seemed to see a lot of promise in using the technology for social good:
“We’re particularly excited about this innovative pilot initiative since child trafficking is one of the worst examples 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.”
Investing in Social Good
Since the WIN launched in 2016, they have been in talks with multiple government agencies who see the promise in using these technologies for social good.
They are also reaching out to investors from the private sector, going so far as to create a Global Challenge for the greatest minds to use blockchain technology for the good of humanity. Such a massive humanitarian effort is a big leap toward a safer world for children and a brighter future for humanity as a whole.