To identify and assess new blockchain-based approaches to the challenge described, the World Identity Network partnered with several United Nations agencies and launched a Global Challenge that seeks to source blockchain technology solutions to combat child trafficking.

This open call for ideas and contributions invited companies, academia, civil society and non-governmental organizations to submit their proposals to combat child trafficking using blockchain-based solutions. The proposed solutions were expected to offer a method for securing identity data around a blockchain-based platform, making an immutable record of the actual or attempted transfer across a border of a minor without parental permission. For the Challenge, we limited the focus to Moldova – the poorest country in Europe and a prime source country for victims of human trafficking .

The terms of the Challenge also required proposed solutions to properly identify and address concerns over the privacy of the personally identifiable information (PII). This included a requirement to posit the frameworks that must be in place for digital identity management. The submissions by interested parties were made online, through the United Nations’ UNITE Ideas platform.

As the Challenge organizers, we acknowledge that technology itself cannot magically undo economic, political or cultural hurdles related to human trafficking eradication. There are no illusions that submissions to the Challenge will provide a silver bullet to resolve global human trafficking. What the Challenge does offer is an opportunity for widespread collaboration in leveraging modern technologies, such as the blockchain, to develop a potential solution to a critical element of the problem: a secure access to self-sovereign identities.

This campaign is the first of its kind on a global stage. It has  allowed open source developers and the broader blockchain community to become an invaluable resource to the United Nations and its partners in developing innovative, high-impact applications that can accelerate humanitarian responses. Thanks to the launch of this campaign, the United Nations UNITE Ideas platform has also become a much more visible and attractive platform to be used by development partners. With 50,000+ visits from over 170 countries, the platform is now seen by many UN agencies as an innovative way to promote an idea or crowdsource solutions to humanitarian challenges.

The campaign has received global recognition when nominated to the D&AD Impact Awards, which celebrate world-changing ideas, and became a finalist in the most transformational Civic Engagement category.

Most importantly, the campaign has had a practical and tangible impact by causing the launch of the world’s first pilot that uses blockchain to prevent child trafficking, becoming a reference case-study for Thomson Reuters Foundation. 

Learn more about the rationale behind this campaign and the Global Challenge in our latest report here »