Security Programme

Terrorism, the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction, trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW), their components, ammunition and explosives, as well as unlawful diversion of dual-use goods present a significant danger not just to the well-being, safety and security of individuals, but also to the economic progress, political stability, and social unity of nations worldwide. At borders, Customs administrations play a pivotal role in comprehensive governmental efforts to mitigate these threats. Customs manage the cross-border flows of goods, individuals, and means of transportation to ensure their compliance with law and to thwart any trafficking attempts. The elevated threat faced by countries after the surge in conflicts and violence saw an increasing number of Customs administrations include security as part of their core mandate.

The United Nations Security Council has reaffirmed the importance of Customs' involvement in border security through various resolutions including UN Security Council Resolution 1540/2004. Recognizing the urgency to address global terrorist threats, the WCO Policy Commission issued the Punta Cana Resolution in December 2015. This Resolution, which emphasizes and reevaluates the role and contributions of Customs in the context of border security and counter-terrorism, serves as a crucial catalyst for change. Shortly after the adoption of the Punta Cana Resolution, the WCO launched the Security Programme, which was specifically aimed at bolstering the capabilities of Customs administrations to effectively address specific security-related risks.

With the SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade as a global Customs instrument to deter international terrorism, secure revenue collection and promote trade facilitation worldwide, the WCO developed the blueprints for effective Customs controls from a supply chain security perspective, while additional guidance regarding specific security related-risks is provided by the Security Programme. In addition, the WCO cooperates on a regular base with United Nations (UN) bodies and other international and regional organizations to help its Members to cope better with their international obligations under various UN Security Council Resolutions.

The WCO Security Programme is now well recognized by the international community, and is highlighted in the “G7 Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism” adopted at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit held in Japan in 2016. Furthermore, the WCO Security Programme is also mentioned in the “G20 Action Plan on Countering Terrorism” adopted in July 2017.

In June 2023, the WCO Council adopted the Fragile Borders Action Plan, which also highlights a number of activity areas to be developed by the WCO and Members, aiming at bolstering the capacities of Member administrations in fragile and conflict-affected situations.

The WCO Security Programme aims at reaching border security outcomes in six strategic areas.

These include:

  • Policy setting and foresight;
  • Providing guidance and good practices on Customs controls in relation to security;
  • Coordination of security-related Customs law enforcement programmes and operations;
  • International cooperation;
  • Technical assistance and capacity-building;
  • and private sector outreach.

The Programme consists of four regional projects and four thematic programmes, projects and initiatives, including:

  • West Africa Security Project (WASP);
  • EU-League of Arab States Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Project;
  • Project BOLT ( Caribbean SALW Project);
  • Europe subregional project Sirius;
  • Passenger Controls;
  • Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) - Programme Global Shield;
  • Strategic Trade Control Enforcement (STCE) Programme;
  • Radiological and Nuclear Detection Awareness (RANDA) Project.

More information on the WCO Security Programme can be obtained by contacting the WCO Security Programme at WCOSecurityProgramme(at)