Using technology to combat crime and promote the rule of law

"Technology and globalization enable criminals to work across regions; increasing their reach, their crimes and their profits. Just as the Internet has transformed every aspect of our lives, it has also become a cornerstone of criminality." In a 2017 op-ed, UNODC Executive Director, Mr. Yury Fedotov warned how, in an increasing high-tech world, science, technology and innovation could be manipulated for criminal purposes. 

Criminals manipulate new technologies to recruit and exploit victims of human trafficking or spread extremist ideologies. The internet can also serve as an illicit market for drugs, firearms or trafficked wildlife products and a 2018 study estimated that cybercrime cost approximatively 600 billion US dollars. In its resolution to counter the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes, the UN General Assembly shared its concern regarding "the increase in the rate and diversity of crimes committed in the digital world and their impact on the stability of critical infrastructure of States and enterprises and on the well-being of individuals."

Yet, to use the words of Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet for the UN Secretary-General, "the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda cannot be through business as usual" as technology and innovation have an important role to play reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. In this spirit, UNODC has been engaging with young Nigerian coders to come up with technological ways to combat organized crime. The winners of our March 2019 Hackathon for Justice attended the World Bank's Law, Justice and Development Week to discuss how technology can be used to promote the rule of law. 

Following the success of the first Hackathon in Lagos, Facebook Developers Circle and UNODC supported Girls Voices Initiative (GVI) in organizing a Girls Hackathon for Justice during which 45 secondary school girls came up with innovative proposals on child trafficking, educating children about their rights, Gender-based violence (GBV) and other rights violation issues.

This event just marked a beginning for the girls.  While GVI will provide a free Python holiday course for the top five teams, Facebook Developers Circle offered to provide mentoring and technical support to the ideas of the winning team and the first and second runners-up. Moreover, the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), a subsidiary of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) offered to engage the girls in the hackathon event for startups in Abuja, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Young Professionals (IEEEYP) offered to mentor the last two teams.