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WCO and partners commit to collaboratively fight against IED threat

04 noviembre 2022

From 2 to 4 November 2022, the World Customs Organization (WCO) held a global conference on its Programme Global Shield (PGS), an international effort to prevent terrorists and criminal organizations from accessing precursor chemicals and additional Improvised Explosive Device (IED) components in the global supply chain.  

More than 240 representatives from around 100 Member administrations, partner organizations (DTRA, EUROPOL, INTERPOL, and UN) as well as important PGS donors (US DoS, Qatar Customs) attended the three-day event, conducted in a hybrid mode.  

A direct outcome of the conference was that participants took the commitment to share relevant information with other Customs administrations as well as partner organizations to improve risk assessment and profiling, as well as to combine efforts, using synergies and enhancing collaboration, to better fight against terrorism and IED threat.   

The Secretary General of the WCO, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, stated “Inter-agency cooperation, especially with police and military forces, is of paramount importance in order to share information on emerging threats and for an efficient risk management of cross-border supply chain”. He added that “through the Programme Global Shield, the WCO continues to ensure that the threat of diversion of precursor chemicals and other IED components remains high on the agenda of Customs.”  

Throughout the recent years, the world has become witness to increasing incidents involving the use of IEDs and other homemade explosive devices manufactured from precursor chemicals such as ammonium nitrate, Acetone or Urea. IEDs are inexpensive and easily manufactured, concealed, and detonated to intimidate, inflict casualties, and destabilize governments. IEDs are the most prevalent form of explosives used by terrorists around the world.

WCO’s Programme Global Shield, at its core, focuses on controlling, securing and monitoring the supply chain for these goods. Spearheaded by the WCO, with the close collaboration of its partners, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the programme provides capacity building to Members, and fosters police-customs cooperation through regional operational exercises.  

In the course of the conference, an update on the global IED threat, new IED typologies as well as new emerging threats by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have been presented by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and INTERPOL. The Conflict Arm Research touched upon the supply of IED material and components in the global supply chain.  

WCO Secretariat presented a joint WCO/DTRA/INTERPOL strategic approach in countering terrorist threats. In addition, the Secretariat introduced the new PGS Project GLOBAL and its deliverables. The three-year project, jointly funded by the US Department of State and the EU, aims at resuming its global approach by providing capacity building activities as well as regional and global operational exercises around the globe. The project recently developed and established a comprehensive PGS analysis that is provided to Members and stakeholders on a quarterly basis, as well as an implementation guide and a newsletter.  

Sri Lanka Customs gave an insight on the 2019 Easter attack, Qatar Customs as one of PGS donors stated a good example on how PGS has been implemented and how regional PGS capacity building activities have been supported by the administration. The WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) for Central Africa provided an overview on the regional operations ALAMBA 1 and 2, conducted in 2020 and 2021, highlighting the importance of proper risk analysis and profiling as well as data sharing. The successful operations saw the participation of 15 West- and Central African countries and led to seizures of more than 48 tons of chemicals, 5 homemade IEDs, among others.  

UN offices introduced the new UNIDIR counter IED self-assessment tool as well as the UNCTED 2370 implementation guide in concert with its joint assessment missions as additional and important tools and efforts in the fight against terrorism and IED threats. It is to be noted that the WCO Security Programme has contributed to and is regularly participating in these missions.   Industry representatives also updated the audience on their recent activities to better know their customers and on their efforts and contributions in securing the global supply chain.