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WCO’s contribution to countering terrorism and violent extremism recognized at G7 Ise-Shima Summit

27 mai 2016

For the first time in eight years since the leaders’ summit took place in Toyako, the Group of Seven (G7) leaders convened for the Summit in Asia. Under the Presidency of Japan, the G7 Ise-Shima Summit was held on 26-27 May in Mie Prefecture, Japan.

Countering terrorism and violent extremism is one of the major topics highlighted by G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration. In particular, the growing number of terror attacks on the sites which are vulnerable due to their open access and limited security barriers as well as cultural property have been underscored. The exploitation of the internet and social media for terrorist, violent extremist and other criminal purposes is a serious area of concern since it is used for terrorist recruiting, financing, attack planning and coordination. The need to ensure implementation of appropriate and sustainable security measures in order to counter terrorist threats to aviation security was also identified as critical.

In the wake of the aforementioned challenges and global threats, G7 leaders developed, adopted and committed to the G7 Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism. The Plan contains three concrete actions that include: counter terrorism measures, empowering alternative voices and tolerance in society and capacity building.

The WCO’s Security Programme is highlighted by the Action Plan as one of the counter terrorism measures aimed at strengthening cooperation among border agencies. The use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) and Advance Passenger Information (API) in traveler screening is recognized in the Action Plan.

The WCO has developed a very robust framework through its Security Programme and its related technical assistance and capacity building programme, the WCO Border Security Initiative. In its current framework the WCO Security Programme covers five critical domains that include (1) Passenger Control, supported by the use of API/PNR; (2) Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) through Programme Global Shield; (3) Strategic Trade Controls through its Strategic Trade Controls Programme which combines capacity building and operational activities; (4) Small Arms and Light Weapons; and (5) Terrorist Financing, by combating illicit trade and money laundering (cash couriers and trade-based money laundering).

The WCO’s Security Programme has been developed in consideration of the latest trends and patterns in the security domain and encompasses a variety of tools and instruments that enable Customs administrations to contribute to this field in a proactive manner. In December 2015, the WCO Policy Commission issued the Punta Cana Resolution on the role and contribution of Customs in the security domain. In particular, it refers to the 2012 WCO Council Recommendation on the use of API/PNR for efficient and effective Customs controls. As the use of API/PNR was also recognised as an efficient tool to tackle the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters (FTF), the WCO will continue advocating the use of this tool in order to counter FTF related risks. Moreover, this is one of the domains where the cooperation between Customs and other law enforcement agencies is a critical parameter of success.

The G7 Action Plan also brings trafficking of antiquities to the attention of States and relevant organizations. Since 2011 the WCO has issued numerous calls upon its Members to increase vigilance to protect cultural heritage in the countries affected by conflict. During the course of the last year, in close cooperation with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), INTERPOL, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), International Council of Museums (ICOM) and UNIDROIT, the WCO has taken concrete steps to assist its Members in the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions 2199/2015 and 2253/2015. In particular, the WCO held a stakeholder meeting to enhance its secure communication platform ARCHEO which was designed to be used by the law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders for identification of cultural objects and further investigation. The updated platform will be presented and promoted during the Council session in July 2016, where a draft Council Resolution on the role of Customs will also be presented for approval. The WCO continues to work to develop specialised training for Customs officers in the domain of the protection of cultural heritage. This is a very practical step towards enhancing the capability of Customs authorities to deter looting and trafficking of cultural property from the regions controlled by terrorist groups and beyond.

“The WCO welcomes the G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration and the Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism. We will continue working with Customs administrations and other relevant stakeholders in implementing appropriate measures to secure peace and stability”, said WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya. “In these challenging times there is only one way to counter terrorism and violent extremism effectively and efficiently: by acting together as one”, he added.