Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) Programme Global Shield

Throughout recent years the world has witnessed an increasing incidence of the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). IEDs are the most prevalent form of explosives employed by terrorists around the world, particularly because the materials needed to manufacture them are cheap and widely available.

In a unique initiative to secure global supply chains and enhance public safety, the WCO has partnered with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to launch Programme Global Shield. This Programme aims at monitoring the licit movement of 13 of the most common chemical precursors and other materials that could be used to manufacture IEDs, in order to counter their illicit trafficking and diversion.

The achievements and importance of Programme Global Shield, initiated in November 2010 as a 6-month project, led the WCO to endorse it as a long-term endeavour. Even the United Nations recognized Programme Global Shield, and encouraged all countries to participate in and support it.

Today, the Customs administrations of more than a hundred countries are sharing information on precursor chemicals and other materials used to manufacture IEDs which have been seized or simply imported/transited or exported to/through/from their countries. Along with training, technical assistance, operational exercises, real-time information and intelligence-sharing, Programme Global Shield enables its participants and partners to be better equipped to interdict the illicit diversion of these materials in the supply chain.

The overall objectives of Programme Global Shield are to:

  • Promote cooperation among Customs and Police Administrations in combating the illicit diversion of materials used to manufacture IEDs;
  • Raise global awareness of the increased threat posed by precursor chemicals and other dual use materials that can be used to manufacture IEDs;
  • Encourage additional Members to actively participate in Programme Global Shield by nominating National Contact Points and sharing information on (licit) precursor chemicals importations/transits/exportations or illicit seizures on a regular basis.
  • Engage with private industry players to establish best practice programmes to avoid the illicit diversion of precursor chemicals and other dual use materials that can be used to manufacture IEDs;
  • Train Customs officers in the detection/handling of IED materials;
  • Train trainers in all parts of the world in order for them to be able to deliver national or regional trainings.
  • Identify and seize illicit shipments of IED materials and communicate these seizures to other Programme participants and partner organizations through a secure communication platform;
  • Initiate investigations and other enforcement activities regarding illicit shipments (backtracking investigations);
  • Identify and share best practices to combat the illicit diversion and trafficking of IED materials;
  • Monitor and track legitimate shipments of IED materials to identify the patterns, diversity, and extent of licit international trade; and
  • Facilitate legitimate trade in precursor chemicals and other dual use materials that can be used to manufacture IEDs, through risk-based targeting.

Relevant tools

PGS Pocket Identification Wizard
To improve capabilities, especially at Customs border stations, Programme Global Shield developed the Pocket Identification Wizard (PIW) to provide frontline staff with specific information on chemical precursors and additional IED components, as well as respective safety instructions when dealing with such materials.

PGS detection kits
Programme Global Shield has assisted with the development of chemical test kits and is promoting solutions to enable Customs frontline staff to quickly decide whether chemicals tested are precursor chemicals or not. These tools are able to effectively enhance safety and security at borders and along the supply chain.

Raman Spectrometers
Subject to the availability of project funds, Programme Global Shield is able to provide Raman Spectrometers for the professional detection of precursor chemicals at main Customs border crossings.

Relevant instruments

PGS permanent secure communication platform (CENcomm)
PGS Members are regularly sharing relevant information (e.g., seizures) on precursor chemicals and related materials used to manufacture IEDs through a permanent secure communication platform, and obtaining immediate replies to their requests.

Cooperation with partner organizations
Information exchange is key to success in PGS. The WCO is continuously cooperating with all relevant stakeholders on PGS matters.

Data analysis on information shared and alerts issued, if deemed appropriate
Depending on information provided or operational exercises conducted, the WCO provides related analyses or issues alerts for Members’ attention and action.


Depending on project funds, Programme Global Shield regularly organizes regional or global operational exercises in order to improve capacity, foster inter-agency cooperation and practise lessons learned. Examples of such exercises include:

  • OP PGS MENA, global, 2017
  • OP PGS IMPEDE, South East Asia, 2019
  • OP PGS ALAMBA, West and Central Africa, 2020
  • OP PGS East Africa, 2020

Capacity Building

PGS regional or national awareness raising workshops
Depending on the availability of project funds, the WCO conducts regional or national PGS awareness raising workshops for Customs and other border agencies.

PGS regional Train-the-Trainer workshops
Depending on the availability of project funds, the WCO conducts regional PGS Train-the-Trainer workshops in order to enable regional trainers, who may become WCO accredited trainers, to spread PGS knowledge in their respective countries on behalf of, or in cooperation with the WCO.


PGS CliKC e-learning module