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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)wcoomd.org.

  • Passenger Controls

    The United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014) calls on member states to focus their attention around the so-called “foreign terrorist fighters” phenomenon and to prevent the movement of righ-risk individuals to and from conflict areas. The WCO’s Passenger controls initiative is focused on assisting Customs to utilize Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Records (PNR) as part of their passenger risk assessment processes.

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  • Programme Global Shield

    Programme Global Shield is one of the WCO’s longest running security initiatives. It is a multidisciplinary effort to monitor the licit movement of the most common chemicals and other components used by terrorists and violent extremist organizations to manufacture Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and prevent illicit trafficking and diversion. The WCO partners in this programme with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Global shield is a Programme that saves lives and limbs.

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  • Radiological and Nuclear Detection Awareness (RANDA) Project

    Radiological and Nuclear Detection Awareness (RANDA) Project

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  • Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Project

    In the aftermath of the adoption of the global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the WCO established a special SALW Project to help its Members implement measures designed to prevent illicit trafficking of firearms. In addition to the ATT, the United Nations Programme of Action (PoA) and the Firearms Protocol of the Transnational Organized Crime Convention (TOC) provide the framework for the activities of the WCO SALW Project.

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  • Strategic Trade Control Enforcement Programme (STCE)

    The STCE Programme is focused on weapons of mass destruction and the prevention of illicit trafficking of items that could be used in such weapons or in their delivery systems. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) calls for proper export and transit controls to prevent proliferation. The STCE Programme is the main WCO vehicle for supporting Members in establishing and enforcing such controls at the borders.

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  • West Africa Security Project (WASP)

    The WCO officially launched its West Africa Security Project (WASP) in 2022. This multi-year initiative has been funded through the Enable and Enhance Initiative (E2I) of the German Federal Foreign Office, with support from the German Central Customs Authority. The E2I is a component of a broader German Government effort dedicated to providing assistance to partner states, emphasizing security sector reform. Notably, this Project represents the inaugural collaboration between German Customs and the WCO concerning Border Security issues and Gender Equality and Diversity (GED).

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