WCO launches the Security Project for West and Central Africa

26 April 2018

On the occasion of the 23rd Conference of Directors General of Customs of the WCO West and Central Africa (WCA) Region, the WCO launched its new Security Project during a ceremony held in Conakry, Guinea on 25 April 2018.

The WCO Security Project aims to help Member administrations in West and Central Africa respond, through Programme Global Shield, to the security challenges posed by the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  This Project follows up on the WCO Punta Cana Resolution of 2015 and the subsequent adoption of the WCO Global Counter Terrorism Strategy. The Government of Japan provides financial support to the Project, with a contribution of over 3 million US dollars.

At the ceremony, Secretary General Mikuriya stressed that the WCO Security Project, through the implementation of Programme Global Shield in the WCA Region, will greatly contribute to supporting Customs administrations and other relevant stakeholders in the protection of society and to further securing the supply chain.  He highlighted the fact that Programme Global Shield has been referred to positively in several high-level United Nations (UN) resolutions, and that it addressed the multifaceted challenges faced by Customs and border agencies when controlling highly technical or potentially dangerous materials, such as chemicals that could be used to manufacture IEDs.

On behalf of the Japanese Government, H.E. Mr. Hisanobu Hasama, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Guinea, welcomed the new WCO Security Project as a solid building block following on from the “G7 Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism”, adopted at the G7 Summit held in Ise Shima, Japan in 2016.  He expressed his hope that the Project would successfully enable Customs administrations and border agencies to enhance their capacities to address terrorist threats, leading to deeper cooperation and a more secure environment for the Region’s citizens and economies.

The Vice-Chair of the WCO West and Central Africa Region, Mr. Pierre Alphonse Da, Director General of Customs of Côte d’Ivoire, referred to the increase in terrorist activity in the Region and to the need for Customs to evolve and leverage its capacity to help mitigate this threat.  Mr. Da concluded by expressing his gratitude to the WCO and the Government of Japan for their contributions to the Security Project.

Mr. Makoto Fujishiro, Director General of Tokyo Customs, Japan, highlighted the crucial role of Customs in border control and surveillance and the resulting ability to be a key player in the fight against terrorism.  He also shared Japan‘s experience of the use of modern technologies promoted by the Security Project, such as the use of Raman spectrometers for the analysis and identification of chemicals.

A panel discussion, featuring the Director General of Customs of Cameroon and high-level speakers from the Counter-IED Centre of Excellence and from INTERPOL, focused on the security threats faced by the Region and explored ways that the Project could support Customs administrations in addressing them.  The panel also showed the interlinked functions of the Customs, police and military in response to the threat posed by IEDs and, accordingly, the close cooperation needed to address this threat.

The Security Project will promote and deliver efficient and effective counter-terrorism measures including close cooperation between the various stakeholders such as Customs administrations, related law enforcement agencies, the military, international organizations and the private sector.  It will further complement existing regional security initiatives, such as the SPC++ Project.