Mitigating Security Threats: WCO and ICAO Release Revised Brochure for Air Cargo and Mail Security

24 July 2023

The World Customs Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have released a revised brochure titled “Moving Air Cargo Globally - Air Cargo and Mail Secure Supply Chain and Facilitation”. The brochure aims to assist air transport regulators and operators in mitigating security threats associated with air cargo activities.

The air cargo and mail operating environment is highly complex, involving numerous entities. This can lead to challenges in implementing security measures and countering threats. The third edition of the brochure provides advice on the roles and responsibilities of these various entities, emphasizing effective collaboration within the regulatory framework to ensure the security of air cargo and mail.

“The WCO and ICAO have been working in partnership to secure and protect the air cargo and mail supply chain from unlawful intrusions while facilitating the movement of people, goods and conveyances across borders. Our holistic approach is supported by a wide range of joint activities, including working groups on air cargo security, conferences, workshops, and harmonized implementation of standards,” stated WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya. “The publication of this third edition of the ICAO-WCO brochure is crucial to provide updated information on security and facilitation measures implemented by the WCO, ICAO and other stakeholders”.

ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar stated that “Maintaining operational efficiency and commercial viability has always been at the cornerstone of ICAO's efforts towards improving aviation security, as demonstrated by the tremendous adaptability and resilience the air cargo sector showed during the COVID-19 pandemic.” He highlighted that the understanding of the nature and level of related security threats – and how to combat them – has also significantly improved in recent years. “Moving Air Cargo Globally will help to support the implementation of robust and harmonized standards worldwide, while fostering the improved air transport connectivity which will be so critical to the future sustainability of societies and economies everywhere, ” he added.

Past attacks on civil aviation involving concealed improvised explosive or incendiary devices in cargo consignments underscore the importance of remaining vigilant and implementing measures to secure air cargo and mail. These vulnerabilities could potentially provide terrorists and criminals with a route of attack, necessitating sustainable measures implemented by all stakeholders.

The brochure also emphasize the increasing importance of the digitalization of cargo processes to better align them with modern multimodal supply chains. Digitalization aims to make cargo operations more agile, responsive, and secure in the face of new opportunities and threats. The focus is on measures related to high-risk cargo and screening, including preventive security measures targeting staff members to mitigate threats posed by insiders.

Drawing on input from wide-ranging stakeholders, including regulators and industry representatives, the publication acknowledges the critical role that international supply chains play as catalysts for sustainable development at the national, regional, and global levels. It underscores the need to avoid security-related disruptions to these activities.