WCO participates through a video message in a High-Level International Conference on fighting terrorism in Central Asia

04 March 2022

At the joint invitation of Mr. Abdulaziz Kamilov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Ms. Helga Maria Schmid, Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE), and Mr. Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOCT), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), participated through a video message in the High-Level International Conference on “Regional cooperation of Central Asian countries within the framework of the Joint Action Plan for the Implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy” held in a hybrid format on 3 and 4 March 2022 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The Conference was co-organized by the Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UNOCT, the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) and the OSCE. 

The event gathered over 600 senior officials and leading experts from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, as well as representatives of international and regional organizations, think-tanks, and non-governmental organizations.  

At the opening ceremony, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev addressed the participants and emphasized the importance for the international community to consolidate its efforts to address the increasing global and regional security threats in such difficult circumstances.  He mentioned that successful implementation of the counter-terrorism strategy in the region requires to strengthen mechanisms for constant monitoring and critical evaluation of the Joint Plan of Action’s implementation and coordination of cooperation among the Central Asian countries.

In his video message, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya said that Customs is the first line of defence to prevent organized crime and terrorist groups from exploiting illicit trade and highlighted in this regard the important role played by the WCO in setting international standards to secure and facilitate supply chain and ensure connectivity at borders.

The Secretary General Mikuriya stated that, in order to assist Customs administrations in the Central Asia and surrounding countries in fulfilling their responsibilities, the WCO had supported the participation of Customs in broader UN initiatives to build capacity to prevent and combat terrorism at the borders. In this regard, he mentioned the recent WCO Operation Cosmo Central Asia for addressing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other dual-use goods and demonstrating the effective implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution (UN SCR) 1540.

Dr. Mikuriya went on to say that the WCO had also been actively involved in the recent UN SCR 2370 “Deep Dive” assessments, examining a State’s ability to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons in Central Asian countries, with a focus on the effectiveness of border control of firearms, ammunition and explosives. In this connection, he stressed the need to include Customs in Committees and other mechanisms designed to combat terrorism.

The Secretary General said that the WCO is committed to working with its partners to enable Customs to contribute to counter-terrorism in Central Asia.