Bangkok (Thailand), 27 February 2020 - Multisectoral government delegations from countries across ASEAN came together in Bangkok, Thailand on 25 February for the first ASEAN Regional Conference on Child Online Protection.
Joined by UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, academic experts, young people and the private sector, delegations looked at good practices, identified solutions and looked at ways to accelerate action on protecting children online. The Conference was co-organized by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
"The online world has no borders and therefore no single sector, no single organisation, nor country can effectively tackle online abuse and the exploitation of children alone," said Marcoluigi Corsi, Deputy Regional Director, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific. "Cooperation and collaboration between sectors, government, the private sector and between countries is essential if we are to make sure every child is safe from abuse online."
According to UNICEF's annual flagship publication, State of the World's Children 2017: Children in a Digital World, one in three Internet users is a child and more than 175,000 children go online for the first time every day. While the internet and social media provide children and adolescents with unparalleled opportunities to connect, to access and share information, and to access entertainment, it inevitably exposes them to risks of abuse and exploitation and these risks are growing exponentially. It is estimated that approximately 75,000 individuals are online at any one time looking to connect with children for sexual purposes.
"This meeting provides an excellent opportunity for ASEAN Member states, experts and the private sector to share and learn about protecting children online and stamping out online abuse," said Porametee Vimolsiri, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, Royal Government of Thailand.
"Online child sexual exploitation is an extreme form of violence, which can leave horrendous physical and mental scars that last a lifetime," said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative. "National laws need to be aligned with international standards and it is essential to have a regional forum for information sharing to address operational challenges."
According to the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) Measuring digital development: Facts and figures 2019, ICTs can enhance education, reduce youth unemployment and promote social and economic development. However, for youth to benefit from this transformative power of ICTs, they must be equipped with a range of digital skills, including safety.
"Multi-stakeholder efforts including cooperation among governments, Telecoms industry and other ICT related actors as well as children and youth is crucial to protect children online. The Regional Conference on Child Online Protection is a great effort to show the evolution of technology, by exploring how advanced technologies can help to build a safer cyberspace for children." said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director, ITU Development Sector.
"Technologies and communication platforms are constantly evolving, and we must ensure that sectors are ready to give children the protection they need online and offline," said Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Government of the Philippines. "We require future-proof legal, policy, educational and technological responses that can quickly adapt to this ever-changing environment, and help young people reap the benefits of the online world without fear of abuse and exploitation."
This meeting was convened by the Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) Thailand and the Thailand Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, SOMSWD Philippines and the Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development, together UNICEF, UNODC, and the ITU.
Click here to learn more about UNODC's regional work on cybercrime.
Click here to learn more about UNODC's regional work on Criminal Justice Systems.