WCO supports global fight against illicit trafficking during a joint Press Conference in Antwerp

09 六月 2021

On 9 June 2021, the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, participated in a joint Press Conference with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Belgium, Mr. Vincent Van Peteghem, the Mayor of Antwerp, Mr. Bart de Wever, and the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ms. Ghada Fathi Waly, to share the results of cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking.

Secretary General Mikuriya highlighted the success achieved by the Port of Antwerp, the second largest port in Europe, in facilitating trade while at the same time addressing the challenges inherent to megaports. Dr. Mikuriya stressed the need to step up the fight against drug trafficking and other illicit trade in view of the globalization of criminal activities. He recalled the close collaboration between the WCO and Belgian Customs in facilitating the sharing of information and intelligence with source and transit countries and emphasized the WCO’s backing for Antwerp’s innovative initiative involving large-scale scanning of containers.

Dr. Mikuriya reiterated the WCO’s commitment to utilizing Technology to improve risk management, namely by using non-intrusive inspection (NII) equipment; to Training source countries to foster legitimate trade and detect illicit trade through the WCO/UNODC Container Control Programme (CCP); to organizing global enforcement operations; and, finally, to building and enhancing Trust among partners and stakeholders, including Customs, Police, ports and the private sector, in order to combat corruption more effectively and ensure gender equality.

Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr. Vincent Van Peteghem, announced the half-year figures on drug seizures in the Port of Antwerp and described various detection techniques used to combat illicit trafficking. Mr. Van Peteghem indicated that the number of seizures had increased significantly from 4.7 tonnes in 2013 to over 65 tonnes in 2020. He congratulated the WCO and UNODC on their contribution to this fight and called for renewed vigilance during this time of crisis.

The Executive Director of the UNODC, Ms. Ghada Fathi Waly, thanked the WCO for its continuous support, especially regarding the CCP, and talked about the need for further capacity building to enhance containerized trade security, facilitation standards and border controls.

Belgian Customs also organized the following demonstrations: a patrol boat operating with a diving team from Netherlands Customs; verification of a container by a drug detector dog; Customs controls using backscatter equipment; and side loader handling operations.

The WCO Secretary General also took part in interviews with local and international media to promote the work of the global Customs community in the fight against illegal trafficking as well as to advocate cooperation with international partners.