Strong security and efficient operations in civil aviation help prevent the movement of terrorists, ICAO representative tells Committee
The Director of the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Air Transport Bureau, Boubacar Djibo, briefed the Counter-Terrorism Committee on 27 June 2013 on their work and efforts to prevent the movement of terrorists.
According to air transportation data for 2012, 2.9 billion passengers travelled 26 million airline routes last year. One thousand airlines and over 4,000 airports were in service, plus 52 million tons of freight was transported. Such high volume is a reminder of how important it is to secure travel and tourism, trade and cargo.
Enhancing global civil aviation security and facilitation is among ICAO's strategic priorities, Mr. Djibo said. Criminals use airplanes to transport illicit goods or to cross borders. They have served as weapons, too, as was the case of the bombing of a Pan American flight over Scotland in 1988 and the hijacking of three flights in the United States that were used in terrorist attacks in 2001.
"Threats worldwide are continuing, evolving and challenging to predict," Mr. Djibo said. "All facets of civil aviation are at risk – passenger aircraft, air cargo, airports, and related facilities and operations."
One way to improve security at borders and prevent terrorists from crossing them is to confirm the identity of travellers through machine readable travel documents (MRTDs). Since criminals have shifted from document to identity fraud, ICAO recommends taking a holistic approach. Besides MRTDs, identification management involves document issuance and control, inspection systems and tools, interoperable applications, and evidence of identity. The identification programme, known as TRIP, applies to all modes of transportation and borders.
Mr. Djibo said that some countries unfortunately lack robust identification management systems and have a limited capacity to identify individuals for the purposes of border control, terrorism prevention and law enforcement. ICAO provides guidance and assistance to these and other countries in order to strengthen the civil aviation sector.
ICAO works closely with partners, including the Security Council and its Counter-Terrorism Committee. Mr. Djibo said that in the future ICAO would like to establish a framework with the Committee dedicated to providing States with technical assistance to implement the TRIP strategy.
ICAO has been one of the key UN specialized agencies working in close partnership with the Committee and CTED in counter-terrorism capacity-building projects, and there has been firm support by both to ICAO initiatives aimed at enhancing global aviation security.