Several United Nations agencies have teamed up with World Identity Network (WIN) to launch a pilot initiative that will use blockchain technology to help combat child trafficking. The United Nations blockchain initiative is part of a broader humanitarian effort.

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Part of a broader project called “Blockchain For Humanity”, the UN blockchain identity pilot was announced at the Humanitarian Blockchain Summit in New York, according to a WIN press release.

Two agencies are involved in the United Nations blockchain initiative: the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology (UN-OICT).

According to United Nations data, over 600 million children under the age of 14 do not possess a birth certificate. These undocumented children are easy prey for human traffickers.

“Invisible children are children at risk,” Dr. Mariana Dahan, co-founder and CEO of WIN, said. “Several developing countries are actively looking at more efficient ways to prevent child trafficking. Identification is always at the heart of the solution.”

Traffickers use fake identification documents to transport children across borders. Storing digital identities on blockchain would increase the chance of catching traffickers and make trafficking attempts “more traceable and preventable”, the press release says.

UN officials have described the initiative as one of the most impactful applications of blockchain technology.

“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,” UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director Yannick Glemarec said.

“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,” Yochiyuki Yamamoto, Special Advisor for UN Engagement and Blockchain Technology, said.

Moldova and Ukraine – two countries with a high prevalence of human trafficking – have shown interest in piloting the project.

The United Nations and World Identity Network are seeking support from governments, private sector companies, civil society, NGOs, and academia that are willing to help combat child trafficking.

United Nations blockchain initiative – Image source: UN Photo/John Isaac

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