WCO Secretary General meets with EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator

29 May 2018

WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya welcomed Mr. Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, to WCO Headquarters on 25 May.

Recognizing the need to raise awareness of Customs’ role in the area of counter-terrorism, the EU Coordinator invited the WCO to speak at the Workshop on Protecting Iraqi Cultural Heritage and Fighting Terrorism to be held in Brussels the week after his visit.

Mr. de Kerchove expressed particular appreciation for the numerous activities undertaken by the WCO following the adoption, in 2016, of the WCO Council Resolution on the Role of Customs in Preventing Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Objects, making cooperation with relevant stakeholders the focus of all enforcement strategies. 

The above-mentioned activities include the development and rollout of a tailored training curriculum for Customs officers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in 2017 and further development of the training material to boost the operational capacities of officers on the ground in other regions.  Such training activities directly contribute to the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347, adopted in 2017, which calls on the WCO and other relevant international organizations to assist Member States in their efforts to prevent and counter destruction and looting of and trafficking in cultural property in all forms.

Dr. Mikuriya and Mr. de Kerchove also took the opportunity to discuss possible cooperation between the WCO and the EU institutions to enhance information exchange aimed at supporting strategic and operational intelligence analysis and enhancing risk management. 

The WCO Secretary General introduced the WCO’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Security Programme developed to support WCO Members requiring assistance to build or augment their border security capacity. He stressed the unique contribution Customs can make to a country’s security and economy by effectively managing borders in partnership with business and relevant authorities, highlighting the potential positive impact on revenue collection generated by facilitating legitimate trade while ensuring effective controls.  

Dr. Mikuriya also briefed Mr. de Kerchove on the cooperation mechanisms currently in place with EU bodies such as EUROPOL, FRONTEX and the Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, in addition to the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union, the WCO’s traditional working partner.  During the discussions that followed, several areas for further cooperation were identified and these will hopefully translate into practical action once financial and human resources are made available.