ALEXANDRIA, VA – The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) announced today that long-time President and CEO, Ernie Allen will retire later this year.
Allen created ICMEC in 1998 to address the issues of child abduction and the sexual exploitation of children on a global basis. He has served as President and CEO of ICMEC since its creation.
During his tenure, Allen built ICMEC into the leading international resource on the issues of child abduction, child sexual exploitation and child sex trafficking used today by governments and policymakers around the world. Some of the accomplishments under his leadership include:
- Creating of the respected Koons Family Institute on International Law & Policy which has reviewed laws in 200 countries and worked with parliaments in 100 countries to enact new law on child pornography. And developed model law on child sexual exploitation and worked with international bodies to change national legislation;
- Training for law enforcement in more than 121 countries;
- Creating of a global missing children’s network that includes 22 countries;
- Entering into formal partnerships with INTERPOL, the Organization of American States, the Hague Conference on Private International Law and others;
- Working with Belgium, Romania, South Africa, Russia, Belarus, South Korea and others to establish national centers on missing and exploited children. And created a Southeastern European Center on Missing and Exploited Children that serves 13 countries in the Balkan region;
- Hosting numerous international conferences involving world leaders including a 2007 meeting in Paris attended by the Queens or First Ladies of Belgium, Egypt, the European Union, France, Poland, Russia, Sweden and the U.S. which was referred to by French media as “the G8 for Children” and a 2009 meeting of 400 Arab leaders in Cairo creating the first opportunity to engage with leaders in the Middle East on child protection;
- Bringing together financial leaders which worked together to eliminate the commercial child pornography industry and technology companies to develop innovative technology to attack the exploitation of children;
- Creating a new initiative, the Global Health Coalition, comprised of leading pharmaceutical companies and health care institutions, working together to attack child sexual abuse and exploitation not just from a legal and law enforcement perspective but for the first time as a public health crisis and much more;
“Ernie’s life work has been dedicated to the protection of children. He has been the visionary and the heart of ICMEC. Under his leadership the organization has achieved enormous success and he has made a difference. His work has touched the lives of thousands of children and he will be missed,” said Franz Humer, Chairman of the Board of ICMEC.
In the US, more than thirty years ago police could enter information into the FBI’s national crime computer about stolen cars, stolen guns, even stolen horses but – not stolen children. Allen has devoted most of his professional life to changing that and to addressing the equally serious problem of child sexual exploitation. A critical part of this journey began when Allen helped establish the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 1984, served as its first Chairman and then as President and CEO until he retired in 2012 to devote more time to the international work that was being done by ICMEC.
“America and many other countries have changed the way they search for missing children and nations around the globe have been awakened to the under-recognized, under-reported crisis of child sexual exploitation. Today there is a coordinated national and increasingly international response to the problem of missing children and sexually exploited children and more children come home safely today than any time in history. And more offenders who prey upon children are brought to justice than ever before,” said Allen.
“I am proud to have played a role. We have brought together law enforcement, business leaders, technology leaders, researchers, nonprofit groups and the general public to overcome borders and jurisdiction. Today we have better law and better technology. Law enforcement is better prepared and responds more swiftly and effectively. Families and children are more alert and aware,” said Allen. “We have achieved the vision we had in 1984 with the creation of the national center and in 1998 with the extension of that work and the creation of ICMEC. We have changed the lives of countless children and touched the lives of families around the globe.”