WCO Security Summit takes place in Brussels

10 June 2016

WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya and His Excellency Mr. Masafumi Ishii, Japanese Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and the representative of the Government of Japan to NATO opened the first WCO Security Summit, which took place at the WCO HQ from 7 to 9 June 2016.

The Summit gathered together 41 WCO Members, 6 RILOs, INTERPOL, Europol, and FATF among others to discuss how the Customs community can deliver its Border Security mission. More specifically, the purpose of this event was for WCO Members to discuss the implementation of the Punta Cana Resolution in practical terms.

Mr. Mikuriya welcomed the delegates and impressed upon them the importance of the role that Customs play in securing trade and borders.  He impressed upon the audience the value of the expertise and authority that Customs can bring to bear in this realm and articulated the specific programmes the WCO has in this regard. 

In his comments, Ambassador Ishii introduced the outcome of the G7 Summit Meeting hosted by Japan this past May wherein they issued the “G7 Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism.”  This plan explicitly referenced the WCO’s Security Programme as an important counter-terrorism measure. Ambassador Ishii added that, “this makes this Seminar all the more timely and important. I believe that Customs have played and will continue to play the crucial central role in border security by strengthening security measures and promoting capacity building. I am convinced that WCO will continue to play the central role in these endeavors.”

The Summit explored specific terrorist threats both to Europe and the rest of the world, and heard examples of specific national responses. In looking at the global threats to security, the topics of discussion included the global supply chain of precursor material for industrial scale production of IEDs (which is being addressed by the WCO’s Programme Global Shield), Small Arms and Light Weapons, Strategic Trade Control Enforcement, Terrorist Financing, including trade based financing, and how API / PNR can be used for security related activities.  Many of these topics included panel discussions that featured a range of experts in each of these fields and examples of best practices along with overviews of the WCO Security Programme training and capacity building activities.

The threats from the smuggling of weapons and weapons parts in express courier and mail services was specifically highlighted, as was the use of couriers carrying cash and pre-paid cards as a source of financing terrorist groups. These discussions provided the context for discussions surrounding future operational activities in the areas of Small Arms and Light Weapons and cash and Bearer Negotiable Instruments.

This Summit was the first in a series of six regional seminars that will be conducted over the next 12 months. The next event will be the Regional Seminar for the Americas, 21 to 23 November in Brasilia.