Political will

What is it?

  • Senior level recognition that child sexual abuse and exploitation is a problem that leaders need to address, including where the internet plays a role (CSEA online).
  • Allocation of government and company resources dedicated to eliminating CSEA.

Why is political will important?

  • Indication of awareness of the issue, of harm it causes, of scale and need for actions at strategic political level and amongst key stakeholders.
  • Greater likelihood of adequate legal frameworks, stronger policy, a robust law enforcement and judicial response, improved victim services – and a desire to hold online service providers to account.
  • Commitment from political leaders and technology companies to plan, allocate resources (funding and people), and deliver actions that reach a set of objectives (e.g. in the MNR and GSR) aimed at eliminating CSEA online.
  • It enables long-term planning and resource allocation commitments (e.g. throughout political cycles), which is crucial for sustainable change.

How can it be implemented?

  • Nations can create a dedicated role, such as a national rapporteur or commissioner, to ensure continuing leadership and political will across changes in government.
  • Build awareness and understanding of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), its Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the forthcoming UN General Comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment[1] (published in 2021).
  • Demonstrate political leadership in acknowledging and shifting harmful sociocultural norms that perpetuate child sexual abuse and exploitation
  • Build awareness and understanding of the risks, threats and opportunities for children of internet access and the role of governments and technology industry in developing a safe internet for children.
  • Build understanding of the importance of international collaboration on all levels for an effective and strategic response.
  • Build evidence and understanding of the implications that technology can have on children’s cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development, on achievement of their full rights, and the associated medium- and long-term socio-economic implications.
  • Recognise that “the long-term effects of not investing enough in policies affecting children may have a profound impact on our societies[2].

Further resources:

UNICEF, Review of the Evidence 2020, https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/1183-investigating-risks-and-opportunities-for-children-in-a-digital-world.htm

[1] General Comments are highly authoritative and have a legal basis, they are automatically assumed and not ratified.

[2] European Commission (2012), European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children (EN version), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52012DC0196&from=EN