HM The Queen's speech at the conference Brighthood 2020
(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Ladies and gentlemen,
Connectivity plays a crucial role in our lives, especially now in the COVID-19 era. For the “connected”, it brings education and entertainment. It allows families and friends to stay in touch, just like His Majesty and I stay in touch with our children and grandchildren when visits and family dinners must wait.
However, in a connected world where both children and adults live as much online as offline, we must make sure that every child is safe.
It is for this purpose, ladies and gentlemen, that we are here today. And I am honoured to have this opportunity to speak to you.
21 years ago, I founded World Childhood Foundation to help fight sexual violence against children. Already then, the internet was used to exploit children. And I asked: how can we turn this around? How can technology be used for good, and to fight these terrible crimes?
In 2003, Childhood invested in NetClean. Their solution detects child sexual abuse material on work computers and now also on mobile phones and tablets.
But look where we are today. The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a surge in online distribution of child sexual abuse material, which was already at high levels prior to the pandemic.
In many countries, schools and other support services have been closed down. Both children and adults have been confined to their homes, spending much more time online. This puts children at an increased risk of sexual exploitation, both online and offline.
The need for efficient solutions to tackle these crimes - and to eliminate child sexual abuse material from the Internet - has never been greater.
That is why World Childhood Foundation is leading the work on making the internet safer for children. We do that in the UN Broadband Commission, where we work together with partners like ITU, UNICEF, WHO, and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.
And that is why His Majesty and I convened a roundtable of experts on Artificial intelligence and child sexual abuse, to explore how technology can be used as a catalyst for child safety online.
I am proud to say that while we have still far to go, we have made great progress:
When I started the World Childhood Foundation more than 20 years ago, it was not easy to talk about child sexual abuse and violence against children.
Today, we have a framework that puts light on the issue and makes it easier to take action. This framework is the United Nations Agenda 2030, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals which aim to build a better world. One of the goals, goal 16.2, particularly addresses child sexual abuse.
Ladies and gentlemen: Children have the right to a childhood free from violence, abuse and exploitation. And it is our collective responsibility to make sure that right is fulfilled and protected; at home, in our communities, in our schools and in the corporate world.
But now, with only ten years to go until the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to intensify our efforts.
This is why the Brighthood conference is so important, bringing together relevant stakeholders and focusing on concrete, innovative solutions to fight child sexual abuse.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for participating today. Your presence is a sign of your commitment to this important cause.
And now, please, let us make the most of this opportunity. Let us use what we learn today to ensure a brighter future, free from violence and abuse, for all children.