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WCO Asia/Pacific Security Conference in Japan

03 junio 2019

The World Customs Organization (WCO) and Japan Customs hosted an Asia/Pacific Security Conference from 28 to 30 May 2019 in Kyoto, Japan.  The Conference brought together over 70 delegates representing 25 Member Customs administrations and international organizations to discuss Customs’ role in border security and counterterrorism.  Funding for the Conference was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Government of Japan.

The Conference was opened by Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General, together with Mr. Motoya Nakae, Director-General of the Customs and Tariff Bureau of Japan.  His Excellency Mr. Yamamoto, Ambassador in charge of International Cooperation for Countering Terrorism and International Organized Crime, represented the Government of Japan.

The Conference was organized by the WCO Security Programme to coincide with the conclusion of the Asia/Pacific Security Project, a two-year project funded by the Government of Japan.  The Project has delivered capacity building assistance in three areas of Customs security-related activities: (i) passenger controls, including the use of Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) systems; (ii) Programme Global Shield, which aims to control trade in precursor chemicals and components for improvised explosive devices (IEDs); and (iii) trafficking in small arms and light weapons (SALW).  

The Conference gave Member Customs administrations, the WCO and its partner international organizations the opportunity to discuss security threats in the Asia/Pacific region.  They also considered the current response by Customs and what more needs to be done in the future to further strengthen Customs’ security capability.

Participants recognized that effectively treating security threats required global, regional and national approaches.  Some of the approaches agreed upon included: (i) ensuring that security was integrated into the mandate of all Customs administrations; (ii) greater information and intelligence sharing; and (iii) building greater capacity through security-related training, and the use of detection equipment and other technology.

The need to enhance collaboration with partner security and law enforcement agencies was also discussed.  Strategies for achieving this at the global and regional levels were identified, though there was also recognition that Customs administrations need to promote their security role at national level as part of a ‘whole-of-government’ approach.

In closing the Conference, Dr. Mikuriya noted that the WCO’s theme this year was SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport, emphasizing that the “S” stood for “secure”.  He went on to say that Customs’ role in ensuring the security of the supply chain and travel networks was critical in order for society to remain safe and prosperous.  To reflect the integral role of Customs in border security, Dr. Mikuriya announced that Members’ security mandate would be recognized as a priority in the next WCO three-year Strategic Plan. 

Dr. Mikuriya took the opportunity to give a series of lectures on the current challenges posed and opportunities offered by global trade from a Customs’ perspective.  The lecture series took place at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo, Kyoto University (Graduate School of Government), Osaka University and Kobe Customs.