United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) was granted Special Consultative Status with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) 12 August 2008. The ECOSOC is the UN body that provides guidance and oversight to the General Assembly and the 193 Member States on economic and social matters. Special Consultative Status is granted to non-governmental organizations with expertise in a particular area, which in ICMEC's case is child sexual exploitation and child abduction.
In March 2013, ECOSOC sent an open call for oral and written statements for organizations to contribute to the 2013 ECOSOC High Level Segment (HLS) meeting to take place in July 2013. The expected outcome of the HLS event is a Ministerial Declaration on the theme "Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals" and consideration of recommendations for actions by ECOSOC.
ICMEC submitted a written statement for inclusion in the HLS discussions - it has been approved by ECOSOC and is available on their website. The complete written statement is below.
Addressing the growing problem of violence committed against children
The current Millennium Development Goals successfully address the most basic needs of children: health, hunger, education, and equality. The International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) notes that it is critical for the new development goals to advance child protection even further, by specifically addressing the growing problem of violence committed against children. Despite gradually emerging efforts to reduce this type of violence, the development goals have thus far been noticeably silent on this issue.
Technological innovations, like the Internet and mobile phones, have created a world of opportunities for children and adults to learn and engage, but they also serve as a means for child exploitation and abuse. This is most apparent in the growing prevalence and distribution of child sexual abuse materials online, the grooming of children for sexual purposes through the Internet including social media and peer-to-peer platforms, and child sex trafficking via online classifieds and other forums. Technology now expedites the creation and possession of these harmful materials, decreases the cost of their production and distribution, all while facilitating the victimization of children for these purposes.
The alarming nexus between advanced technology networks and child victimization demands a coordinated response at the local, national, regional, and international levels. The Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals will provide an ideal platform for facilitating a harmonized approach. Thus, ICMEC strongly urges the United Nations to consider the inclusion of combating violence against children in the new Millennium Development Goals, by addressing the following:
- Understanding the connection between technology and the potential risk of exploitation to children including but not limited to trafficking, child pornography, online grooming, and other forms of victimization;
- Understanding the importance of technology as a tool for the identification, investigation, and prosecution of cases of exploitation of children along with victim recovery and rehabilitation;
- Teaching children, parents/guardians, teachers and other caretakers how to use technology responsibly in addition to understanding potential risks;
- Raising public awareness through far-reaching campaigns in the communities, schools, business places and beyond;
- Encouraging active participation of industry stakeholders through Corporate Social Responsibility programs focused on protecting children from violence;
- Training law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and others to equip then with the skills and tools needed to effectively identify, investigate, prosecute cases of computer-facilitated crimes against children and to recover missing and victimized children;
- Developing technology solutions, such as PhotoDNA, to prevent and proactively respond to cases of child victimization as well as to facilitate the recovery of children, including but not limited to cases that necessitate rapid response, with tools such as the AMBER Alert Notification System; and
- Building coalitions and networks of public and private stakeholders, such as ICMEC's Financial Coalitions Against Child Pornography in the U.S. and Asia Pacific and Technology Coalition, to combine the resources of the public and private sectors and to ensure an extensive and comprehensive approach to combating violence against children.