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Brussels, 4 December 2012
Combating sexual abuse of children online: a Global Alliance for greater results
The Global Alliance against child sexual abuse online is a joint initiative primarily from the EU and the US reaching out to third countries.
The Global Alliance builds upon the successful work of the EU-US Working Group on cyber-security and cyber-crime, where the fight against child online abuse has been identified as a key priority.
The Alliance was endorsed by Member States in the Council conclusions on 7 June 2012, and by the US in the EU-US Joint Statement on 21 June 2012 – IP/12/680.
The launching conference will take place on 5 December 2012 in Brussels. Experts from governments, police and judiciary, NGOs, Industry or academia will discuss on different targets to pursue in order to protect children from sexual abuse online. Ministers from the participating countries will have the opportunity to express their endorsement of the Alliance.
Who will participate in the Global Alliance?
To date, Ministers from 48 countries are willing to participate in the Global Alliance:
Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America and Vietnam.
How will the Global Alliance work?
Authorities, mainly Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs of countries joining the Global Alliance commit to pursue a number of policy targets. These include efforts to identify and protect child victims, investigate cases and prosecute offenders, increase awareness of risks for children online, and reduce the availability of child pornography online. They will aim to reach operational goals and undertake specific action within their jurisdiction for that purpose. Specific actions, their extent and content, will be decided by participant countries, in accordance with their national situation.
To make commitments meaningful, a light monitoring mechanism would be set up. First, Ministers will take stock of existing actions at national level and announce what actions they will be undertaking in the near future. Then, two years later, they will report on the implementation of those actions, and gather again to look back, assess progress and decide what type of additional actions to take.
Secretarial functions to collect the national reports, make an overview on progress and organise regular conferences should be borne by participants on a rotating basis. European Commission services have volunteered to conduct those functions in the first round, and the US is willing to take the second round, followed by other participants.
What are countries in the Global Alliance expected to do?
Ministers from participating countries should commit to pursue a number of policy targets and operational goals (e.g. enhancing investigations). They would then decide what specific actions to take to achieve them, on the basis of their domestic situation (e.g. set up Joint Investigation Teams, participate in the Virtual Global Task Force).
Ultimately they are expected to take steps at national level to follow-up on those actions. This implementation part, under the responsibility of each Minister and each country, is the essence of the Global Alliance.
Will the Global Alliance overlap with other international initiatives, like the Virtual Global Task Force?
The Global Alliance is an initiative aiming to sustain political momentum at national level to improve the fight against child sexual abuse online. It is different, but complementary to other existing international initiatives.
Specific cooperation schemes, like Interpol or the Virtual Global Task Force are very effective tools through which participating countries can achieve the goals of the Global Alliance. Some of those goals are particularly topical, like increasing the number of identified victims or improve joint efforts to investigate and prosecute offenders. The Virtual Global Task Force can be a privileged channel to achieve them.
In turn, higher priority at national level for the fight against child sexual abuse online, deriving from participation in the Global Alliance, is likely to improve resources, legislation and cooperation of national forces with Interpol or the Virtual Global Task Force.