Security Council, Concerned at Threat Posed by Illicit Cross-Border Trafficking, Asks for Assessment of UN Efforts in Helping States Counter Challenges
Security Council, Concerned at Threat Posed by Illicit Cross-Border Trafficking, Asks for Assessment of UN Efforts in Helping States Counter Challenges
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6760th Meeting (AM & PM)
Security Council, Concerned at Threat Posed by Illicit Cross-Border Trafficking,
Asks for Assessment of UN Efforts in Helping States Counter Challenges
Presidential Statement Requests Report from Secretary-General in Six Months;
Secretary-General: ‘No Quick Solutions;’ Progress Will Require Commitment of All
Concerned that illicit cross-border trafficking in arms, drugs, chemical and biological weapons and other goods amplified threats to international peace and security posed by armed conflict, terrorism, weapons proliferation and transnational organized crime, the Security Council today invited the Secretary-General to submit, in six months, an assessment of the United Nations work to help States counter those challenges.
In a statement read out by Susan Rice (United States), its President for April, the 15-member body recognized that illicit cross-border trafficking and movement often involved cross-cutting issues that were considered by the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies. It noted that the threats to international peace and security posed by illicit cross-border trafficking and movement had increased. Organized criminal groups, better equipped with information and communications technologies, were becoming more connected in their illicit operations.
While distinct strategies were required to address threats posed by illicit cross-border trafficking and movement, the Council, observing that such behaviour was often facilitated by organized criminal networks, further acknowledged the importance of adopting a comprehensive and balanced approach, as necessary, to tackle the conditions that were conducive to illicit cross-border trafficking and movement, including demand and supply factors. It underlined the importance of international cooperation in that regard.
By other terms, the Council reaffirmed that border security was the sovereign prerogative of States and, in that context, reaffirmed its commitment to the United Nations Charter principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity. It called on all Member States to improve border management to effectively constrain the spread of transnational threats. More broadly, it encouraged States, as well as international organizations and regional and subregional organizations, within existing mandates and as appropriate, to enhance efforts to assist States in building the capacity to secure their borders, upon request and by mutual agreement, in accordance with international law.
“There are no quick solutions to illicit flows,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, launching the Council’s open debate on the matter. “There is only a sustained process that requires the commitment of all”. Countering such activities meant taking action on several fronts. First, strengthening border security was crucial. The United Nations was helping States build capacity in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean through a project designed to enhance controls at international airports. Regional cooperation was also key, and he urged States to ratify the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols.
He said the gravest threat stems from illicit flows related to the possible terrorist acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations would continue to identify new threats and bring them to the Council’s attention. In six months, he would return with an assessment on the Organization’s work to assist States.
In the debate that followed, several speakers argued that the diversity of cross-border problems required a case-by-case approach, since not every illicit cross-border trafficking issue posed a threat to international peace and security. It was almost impossible to lump all kinds of cross-border trafficking and movement under a single term or concept.
Others said the Council had tread on territory that rightly belonged to other United Nations structures. Airing that view, Argentina’s delegate said it was not the Council’s task to assume the mandates of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council or the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Pakistan’s delegate stressed that the border control issue should only become a Council concern in situations that threatened international peace and security.
Still others, including Guatemala’s delegate, said that securing borders against illicit movements of goods, services and persons — while defensible in its own right — also risked hindering licit movements. Pertinent questions hinged on how to distinguish between licit and illicit movements. Combating illegal arms trafficking was different than combating human trafficking, for example. In that context, Norway’s delegate pointed to the Schengen cooperation of European countries as an example of where borders were generally open, but where controls and arrests could take place at other points along the transport route.
Addressing some of those concerns, the United States delegate said many elements of the United Nations system were doing excellent work helping States. But they might be unaware of duplicated efforts, as they were often evaluating the same institutions, providing similar technical advice and appealing to the same donors. The Council could make an important contribution, but it was vital that the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council were also fully engaged.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Portugal, Colombia, Morocco, India, Russian Federation, Togo, China, Germany, Azerbaijan, France, South Africa, United Kingdom, Israel, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Cuba, Republic of Korea, Costa Rica, Iran, New Zealand, Jamaica (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Armenia, Venezuela, Libya, and Syria.
Representatives of the European Union and the African Union also spoke
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and adjourned at 4:25 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement PRST/2012/16 reads as follows:
“The Security Council reaffirms its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
“The Security Council acknowledges the evolving challenges and threats to international peace and security including armed conflicts, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and small arms and light weapons, transnational organized crime, piracy, drug and human trafficking. The Council has addressed, when appropriate, related to these challenges and threats, illicit cross-border trafficking in arms, drug trafficking, trafficking by non-State actors in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, their means of delivery and related materials, trafficking in conflict minerals and the movement of terrorists and their funds, in violation of United Nations sanctions regimes imposed by the Security Council in accordance with Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter and other decisions taken under Chapter VII, in particular resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004), as well as its other relevant decisions (hereinafter — illicit cross-border trafficking and movement). The Council is concerned that suchillicit cross-border trafficking and movement contributes to these challenges and threats. The Council recognizes that such illicit cross-border trafficking and movement often involves cross-cutting issues, many of which are considered by the General Assembly and other United Nations organs and bodies.
“The Council notes relevant international conventions such as the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971, the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime of 2000 and the Protocols thereto, the United Nations Convention against Corruption of 2003 and the relevant international conventions and protocols related to terrorism. The Security Council recalls the United Nations Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons as well as the International Tracing Instrument and the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
“The Security Council reaffirms the benefits of transborder communication, international exchange and international migration. The Security Council notes, however, that the various challenges and threats to international peace and security posed by illicit cross-border trafficking and movement have increased as the world has become more interconnected. The Security Council notes that, in a globalized society, organized criminal groups and networks, better equipped with new information and communications technologies, are becoming more diversified and connected in their illicit operations, which in some cases may aggravate threats to international security.
“The Security Council reaffirms that securing their borders is the sovereign prerogative of Member States and, in this context, reaffirms its commitment to the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations Charter, including the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity. The Security Council calls on all Member States to improve border management to effectively constrain the spread of transnational threats. The Security Council reaffirms that Member States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, and shall also give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the United Nations Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any State against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.
“The Security Council acknowledges that distinct strategies are required to address threats posed by illicit cross-border trafficking and movement. Nevertheless, the Council observes that illicit cross-border trafficking and movement are often facilitated by organized criminal groups and networks. The Council further notes that such illicit cross-border trafficking and movement, which in some cases exploits similar vulnerabilities experienced by Member States in securing their borders, can be addressed by improving Member States’ abilities to secure their borders. The Security Council further acknowledges the importance of adopting a comprehensive and balanced approach, as necessary, to tackle the conditions conducive to facilitating illicit cross-border trafficking and movement, including demand and supply factors, and underlines the importance of international cooperation in this regard.
“The Security Council calls on Member States to fully comply with relevant obligations under applicable international law, including human rights and international refugee and humanitarian law, relating to securing their borders against illicit cross-border trafficking and movement, including obligations stemming from relevant resolutions of the Security Council adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. The Security Council calls on all Member States to fully respect and implement all of their relevant international obligations in this regard.
“The Security Council encourages Member States and relevant organizations to enhance cooperation and strategies, as appropriate, to combat such illicit cross-border trafficking and movement.
“The Security Council encourages Member States, as well as international organizations and relevant regional and subregional organizations, within existing mandates, as appropriate, to enhance efforts to assist Member States to build the capacity to secure their borders against illicit cross-border trafficking and movement, upon request and by mutual agreement, in accordance with international law. The Security Council commends the substantial efforts already under way in this field.
“The Security Council observes that several United Nations entities, including subsidiary organs of the Security Council, already offer such assistance. The Security Council acknowledges the importance of coherent, system-wide United Nations action, in order to offer coordinated responses to transnational threats, including through the use of best practices and exchange of positive experiences from relevant initiatives elsewhere, such as the Paris Pact Initiative.
“The Security Council invites the Secretary-General to submit in six months a report providing a comprehensive survey and assessment of the United Nations relevant work to help Member States counter illicit cross-border trafficking and movement, as defined in the second paragraph above.”
Meeting today for an open debate on the theme of “Securing borders against illicit flows”, the Security Council had before it a 5 April 2012 letter (document S/2012/195) from the Permanent Representative of the United States to the Secretary-General, which contained a concept paper on that issue. The Council also was expected to adopt a presidential statement underscoring the United Nations’ vital role in helping States secure their borders, encouraging greater United Nations internal coordination and requesting the Secretariat to prepare a diagnostic assessment and options.
The paper states that the Council had repeatedly addressed the threats to international peace posed by illicit flows across unsecured borders of drugs, conventional arms, sanctioned contraband, terrorists and their funds, and materials related to weapons of mass destruction — among other things. Despite that significant attention, the Council had never taken a comprehensive approach to considering how United Nations structures could most effectively assist States in securing their borders against illicit flows. Looking at illicit flows comprehensively, rather than solely through a piecemeal approach focused on smuggling in specific items, might help the Council fully understand States’ challenges and the need to develop more effective strategies to address them.
A number of United Nations structures were helping States secure their borders, the paper states, some of which were under the Council’s purview, including the 1540 Committee’s group of experts, the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and sanctions expert panels. The disparate United Nations structures typically focused narrowly on securing borders from specific threats. As a follow-up to today’s discussion, the letter proposes that the Council ask the Secretariat to prepare, within six months, a diagnostic assessment of the different United Nations structures, and the degree to which they were actually meeting States capacity-building needs. The Council would also ask the Secretariat to develop options and recommendations to streamline and improve the Organization’s ability to counter illicit flows.
Launching the open debate, Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said insecure borders enabled the trafficking of drugs, weapons, contraband, terrorist funding, materials for weapons of mass destruction, and conflict minerals, wildlife and people. “Such illicit flows undermine State sovereignty,” he stressed. “They are threats to peace and security.” Countering them meant taking action on several fronts. Strengthening border security was crucial.
While States were obliged to secure borders against illicit flows, fragile countries, some devastated by war, often lacked the capacity to overcome the conditions that allowed such crimes to flourish, he said.
Given that, the United Nations was helping States build capacity, he said, underlining that in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, “Project AIRCOP” was designed to strengthen controls at international airports. The sea equivalent was the Global Container Control Programme. Although more than 500 million maritime containers moved around the world each year — accounting for 90 per cent of trade — only 2 per cent were inspected. Strengthening customs and immigrations system was essential.
He went on to say that that border strengthening was effective — but not if done in isolation. Also, priority must be given to establishing public institutions that delivered sustained justice for citizens. Border security could never come at the expense of migrants’ rights or be used to legitimize inhumane treatment. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Department of Political Affairs were developing comprehensive approaches.
Regional cooperation was also key for addressing illicit flows and human trafficking, he said, urging States to ratify the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols. Countering illicit flows also required doing more to prevent money laundering, and there was a need for systems to monitor the “enormous” flows of illicit money generated by cross-border crime.
Moreover, counter-terrorism strategies relied on States to take measures to address small arms and light weapons, he said, as well as nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological materials. The Organization was helping States strengthen their institutional and legislative frameworks in that area.
But, the illicit flows posing the gravest threat were those related to the possible terrorist acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, he said. United Nations efforts to counter that challenge included the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy and Security Council resolution 1514 (XV) (1960). The United Nations was also helping States develop technical guidelines for the safe handling of ammunition.
“There are no quick solutions to illicit flows,” he said. “There is only a sustained process that requires the commitment of all.” The United Nations would continue to identify new threats and bring them to the Council’s attention. In six months, he would return to the Council with an assessment on the United Nations work to help States counter illicit flows.
JOÄO MARIA CABRAL (Portugal) said under his country’s presidency of the Council last November, a briefing was held on new challenges to international peace and security, which highlighted that the Council could not disregard its role in conflict prevention. His country had suggested the Council establish an observatory tool to monitor those issues and review information to serve as a foundation for concerted, articulated, prompt and effective action. The current debate showed that there was clearly a role for the Council, which could not turn a blind eye to weapon trafficking.
Helping States to secure their borders through technical assistance was already a well-established task, and one the United Nations should improve upon. Identifying areas of overlap and gaps seemed to be a logical step to further improve efforts. The Secretary-General’s forthcoming report assessing the United Nations’ work would provide a valuable basis of work for the Council, the General Assembly and other relevant United Nations organs and bodies. Improving the coherence of action between headquarters-based bodies and the United Nations structures in the field, including the pursuit of consistent preventive approaches, could be another great value.
NÉSTOR OSORIO ( Colombia) said illicit trafficking was a serious contributing factor to the exacerbation of conflict. Trafficking nuclear arms, chemical and biological weapons, and terrorist funding were also threats to international peace and security, as was organized crime. Challenges needed to be tackled individually and cooperation was needed to improve efficiency of implementing binding decisions taken by the Council, with States having full responsibility to apply their international obligations.
Achievements agreed in the General Assembly made it possible to develop inclusive and balanced strategies. Adopting measures and mechanisms to strengthen cooperation were also needed, he said. Those challenges should be tackled from a holistic approach, by addressing illicit trafficking while protecting economic development.
LOFTI BOUCHAARA (Morocco) said illicit flows and cross-border movements had been addressed in several United Nations bodies. There was no doubt that the United Nations’ work — and State actions at national, regional, sub-regional and transregional levels — had led to more secure borders. But, various networks had benefitted from growing connectivity around the world. That fluidity had enabled them to connect via obscure routes and to form mutually beneficial alliances with terrorists. It was a reality in Africa, and recent developments were a “wakeup call”, as they showed the degree to which such cross-border movements could impact State sovereignty.
Combating those threats was, first and foremost, a State responsibility, he said. Securing borders entailed more bilateral dialogue, as well as at the sub-regional, transregional and international levels, based on the principles of solidarity and shared responsibility. That dialogue must focus on the root causes of such trafficking, the goal being to develop durable responses. Assistance was crucial and the international community must support States that requested it. The United Nations had a key role to play in that regard. For its part, Morocco had hosted the launch of the Global Initiative against Terrorism and other initiatives aimed at providing a coordinated response to illicit cross-border movements, and moreover would host Second Regional Ministerial Conference on the Security of Borders in the North African and Sahelian region.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) said that, while his country had not objected in initial consultations to holding a debate on today’s topic, the preparatory discussion had been “quite animated”. Guatemala’s concerns focused on whether to place emphasis on the topic of “securing borders” or “illicit movements”. On the first matter, Guatemala believed that securing borders against the movement of illicit goods, services, and persons, among other things, was defensible in its own right, but also carried the risk of creating obstacles to licit movements. On the second matter, the questions focused on how to distinguish between licit and illicit movements. Combating illegal arms trafficking was different than combating human trafficking, or the trafficking of cultural monuments.
Moreover, not all illicit cross-border activity achieved the threshold of becoming a threat to international peace and security, he said. While Guatemala would like to think that addressing illicit trafficking, whether in the Council or in a broader environment, had been inspired by the idea of fostering State cooperation, by emphasizing “control” and “regulation”, it ran the risk of promoting a more defensive approach by sovereign States, with a mindset based on “save yourself”. That ran counter to United Nations goals. On the other hand, the discussion could help prevent conflict. Transnational organized crime and the illicit trafficking of arms, goods and persons were a shared responsibility and must be prevented collectively. Different strategies were needed to respond to specific threats, including those to reduce the supply and demand of illicit drugs. States must tackle the underlying causes of that phenomenon. United Nations assistance should be carried out within existing mandates.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) said illicit trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, terrorist funding, arms and drugs posed grave threats to international peace and security. A recent concerted push to bring before the Council several global issues under the pretext of their affecting international peace and security should be avoided, as there was clear division of responsibility between the General Assembly, the Council, Economic and Social Council and specialized bodies. General norm-setting must belong to relevant United Nations organs and agencies, and the Council should only step in where there was a threat to international peace and security.
The United Nations had played a role assisting States to fulfil their international commitments and strengthen internal institutions, which should be demand-driven, he said. The connected issue was how relevant United Nations agencies could help interested Member States to secure their borders against illicit trafficking and movement, with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Donors and relevant United Nations agencies must respect the prerogative of the concerned Member State to secure its own borders. Capacity-building assistance must be provided only by request. The inter-linkages between current challenges called for strong collaborative action involving all Member States in a legitimate and appropriate manner.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said porous borders were a factor that was worsening illicit trafficking, which, in turn, undermined the Council’s efforts to maintain international peace and security. Resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004), for example, identified priority areas where the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction and terrorist funding was taking place. The destructive impact of Afghan drug trafficking was threatening international security and required an approach that would, among other things, place drug traffickers on sanctions lists. Greater involvement with Afghan forces was needed to stem drug production in that country.
Another area of concern was piracy in Somalia, which was subject to a sanctions regime. However, Somali pirates had obtained the weapons and monitoring equipment they needed to continue to function. Efforts to address those and other related issues should not overlap in the area of border protection. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s forthcoming report on those matters.
KODJO MENAN (Togo) said information and communications technologies had facilitated the free movement of persons and goods across borders, which made it difficult to secure borders. All kinds of illicit trafficking had flourished. Borders in developing countries were porous and States did not have sufficient means to control them. “Borders have become completely lawless spaces in some of our countries,” he said, where trafficking in arms, drugs, natural resources and persons could mortgage the peace and stability of States. Border zones obeyed a logic that transcended State control. Criminal groups and terrorists could take over entire regions where Governments had no technical means to control them. Their activities raised the issue of border management and State relations.
Despite the existence of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its related protocols, the factors linked to the securing of borders were more important than ever, he said. The quest for appropriate responses to new transnational threats should be a priority. Securing borders and combating illicit cross-border movements required human material and significant financial means. Only a holistic integrated international approach would allow for meeting those challenges. The potential threat to sovereignty and security in West Africa had prompted States to take action, notably through the quadripartite agreement among Benin, Togo, Nigeria and Ghana. Also, Togo had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ghana to fight transnational organized crime. On the domestic front, Togo had adopted a national programme, for the 2009-2013 period, to fight organized crime and illicit trafficking.
LI BAODONG (China) recalled that border management was the responsibility of Member States, voicing hope that countries would respect their obligations under the international conventions and international law relevant for that undertaking. China supported international cooperation for providing assistance to countries, and urged taking into account the unique characteristics of State needs in that regard.
In that context, he highlighted the necessity of preserving States’ territorial integrity, expressing hope that the respective advantages of United Nations bodies be taken into account, in order to create the most optimal synergies. With that in mind, he invited United Nations agencies to better share their activities, in line with their respective mandates.
PETER WITTIG (Germany) stressed that the Council had repeatedly addressed threats to international peace and security, including organized and human trafficking. Open borders should not be seen as threats, and the free movement of goods and people should be aspired to, and not condemned. An assessment of United Nations strategies was needed. However, there was a limit to streamlining. Nuclear materials, dual-use goods and people crossing borders required different approaches, and streamlining should not decrease in the implementation of sanctions, which was an essential contribution to securing borders.
Illicit trafficking and organized crime benefited from inadequately managed borders and States faced challenges in protecting borders alongside their access to trade, he said. Border protection needed qualified and well-equipped personnel, and a reliable and sustainable organization of border activities should be resistant to corruption. Capacity- and institution-building were keys to rising to those challenges. It was worthy to explore how United Nations Police could contribute to those efforts. Germany supported the African Union border programme. National border control efforts should be undertaken with close cooperation with neighbouring States, he said.
TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said, given the current trafficking concerns, border protection was a matter of national sovereign authority and responsibility. However, tightening border controls should not hamper legal cross-border activities. Weak border control led to a spread of illicit cross-border trafficking and movement, but tackling that challenge must not be based on a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Efforts should be tailored to address the individual needs of States.
The sensitive geographic location of his country made it vulnerable to trans-border threats, the existence of which required devoting attention to border security. Azerbaijan was making maximum efforts, with relevant United Nations agencies, to maintain a comprehensive national border control and management and export control systems. However, his country was unable to exert control over a considerable part of its border due to the continued military occupation of its territories. Lack of the sovereign control by the legitimate authorities of Azerbaijan over those borders created favourable conditions for illicit cross-border trafficking and movement in and beyond those territories.
MARTIN BRIENS ( France) said some phenomena were clearly direct threats to international peace and security, especially technical goods related to weapons of mass destruction. Other phenomena affected countries at the national and regional levels, such as the money from the trafficking of natural resources, which fuelled the weapons trade, which, in turn, fuelled regional instability. The Council must take an interest in that topic. The Council had taken up related issues, notably with resolution 1373 (2001) and its February 2012 Presidential Statement, which acknowledged the growing dangers of cross-border threats. Today’s approach was to consider illicit movements from the standpoint of borders.
States had a key responsibility to control their borders, he said, but criminal networks often adapted more quickly than States. States often did not have the capacity to counter illicit trafficking. Hence, the need for international assistance. Many strategies had been put in place to address illicit flows, and he commended regional plans, especially the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons. European Union mechanisms also existed to combat human trafficking. UNODC was playing a key role, especially in West Africa. It was time for the United Nations to assess its efforts to support States, efforts that should lead to recommendations for how to improve them.
BASO SANGQU (South Africa), aligning himself with the letter (document S/2012/257) from the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement to the President of the Security Council, said illicit cross-border movements could create regional instability. Some regions in Africa were awash with illicit weapons, problems that could challenge international peace and security. In that context, he highlighted principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in State affairs, which were key to addressing challenges posed by illicit flows, as the issue involved effective management by each State.
“These are not issues all States can address without assistance,” he said. All States were entitled to seek and receive international assistance, subject to whatever political terms that might be agreed. Indeed, an assessment for how the United Nations could better play its role could help States. Such an assessment could improve assistance efforts and help States set up border controls and financial management systems to address challenges. State sovereignty, and the mandates of the United Nations organs involved, should be respected. South Africa was pleased to note the interest of the wider United Nations membership in today’s debate, and he urged the Secretary-General to take into account all views.
PHILIP PARHAM (United Kingdom) said that threats States faced by illicit trafficking were real and the international community needed to work collectively to tackle them. It was indeed possible to balance the goals of safe borders and healthy trade. Yet, borders and their control did not exist in isolation, and his country’s controls were developed with other countries along with United Nations and other organizations, taking a multi-disciplinary approach.
Arms embargoes and asset freezes were elements to counter illegal trafficking. A host of other United Nations entities and agencies were also active in the field. Working in partnership with the European Union and other partner organizations had been beneficial. However, an assessment was needed to survey the United Nations system that would provide the Council with a basis on which it could provide assistance to States.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) said only a sovereign State could decide how to protect its borders, fortify its security and ensure that the movement of goods and people across its borders did not pose threats to itself or other States. The border control issue should only become a Council concern in specific situations that threatened international peace and security. It was almost impossible to lump all kinds of cross-border trafficking and movement under a single term or concept.
An overall assessment of the United Nations’ capacities must be addressed by the General Assembly and relevant United Nations bodies that dealt with the corresponding cross-cutting issues in a holistic fashion, he said. Within the Security Council, that exercise had to be restricted to those issues and threats addressed under the Council’s mandate. He looked forward to the Secretary-General’s report. To ensure a well-rounded assessment, the views of Member States on the subject would provide the needed clarity and practical solutions. Similarly, the report must follow the logic of the treaty obligations of Member States under various instruments and should not try to influence the organizational aspect of various venues of discussion on border security. Pakistan had taken steps to establish a comprehensive border control regime and was committed to working with the international community to address challenges. In that regard, the importance of addressing the root causes of such illegal cross-border trafficking and movement, including demand and supply factors, could not be over-emphasized.
SUSAN RICE ( United States) said in an interconnected world, the system of collective security was only as strong as its weakest links. One of those links was the poorly secured borders that allowed for the illicit flows of a host of goods and services. Such illicit transfers undermined the sovereignty and internal stability of States, and further, could threaten international peace and security. The Council had addressed illicit transfers individually in regional contexts, notably in the Sahel, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran and Guinea Bissau. It had tended to examine each item trafficked in isolation of one common feature: the poorly secured borders that were easily exploited by nefarious networks. States often requested international assistance in securing borders. They had international obligations, including those derived from chapter 7, requiring them to intercept or control contraband. Significant efforts were under way to help States and should be supported.
Today, the focus was on the United Nations’ operational capacity, she said, noting that the Organization could improve State assistance and put in place related intelligence, customs standards and related legal frameworks. Many elements of the United Nations system were doing excellent work helping States. But, because the bodies were so narrowly focused on specific threats, they might be unaware of duplicated efforts. They were often evaluating the same institutions, providing similar technical advice and appealing to the same donors. The Council could make an important contribution, but it was vital that the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council were also fully engaged. She welcomed the Council’s request to the Secretary-General to provide a diagnostic assessment. The United States hoped the Secretary-General’s report would offer proposals for improvements.
She then read aloud the presidential statement.
RON PROSOR (Israel) said day after day, trafficked arms explode in Israeli cities. Last year, a cargo ship, the Victoria, from Syria, contained 40 tons of Iranian weaponry and intelligence showed that Iran had intended to transfer that shipment to terrorists in Gaza. The ship, intercepted by Israeli forces, was an important reminder to the Council. Iran, and its ally, the Assad regime, had absolutely zero regard for the basic norms and laws of the international community. The Secretary-General’s November report to the Council had noted that Hezbollah, a terrorist organization inside the Lebanese State, had reached “almost the capacities of a regular army”. “It is time for this Council to hold accountable those United Nations Member States that arm, train and fund terrorists,” he said. “The international community’s failure to act today will only invite a bigger nightmare tomorrow.”
Illicit trafficking was a global problem made possible by an increasingly linked network of smuggling rings, transnational criminals and terrorists, he said. The Hezbollah network showed how a gap in one nation’s counter-terrorism capabilities was a weak link that could be exploited. In terms of weapons of mass destruction, he said Iran was a concern that required action. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was also a great cause for concern in Syria, which required the international community’s attention. Preventing weapons from reaching their destination to arm terrorists was a collective obligation. No nation could escape the consequences of inaction.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said the diversity of cross-border problems required a case-by-case approach since not every illicit cross-border trafficking posed a threat to international peace and security. Human and drug trafficking, for instance, did not belong in that category. Where trafficking constituted such a threat, the Council could have a role to play in accordance with the United Nations Charter. The Council’s role should focus on encouraging greater coordination of existing initiatives on the ground.
Coordination of action within the United Nations was important in finding ways to help States tackle those challenges, she said. Regional and South-South cooperation were also important efforts. Sustained attention to underlying causes of trafficking was critical in addressing cross-border issues. Reducing poverty and generating opportunity must be part of any strategy against trafficking.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the Delegation of the European Union, urged that all efforts to strengthen the United Nations’ capacity to assist Member States in securing their borders against illicit trafficking and movements of materials, funds and goods, as well as human beings, should aim at better coordination of all United Nations bodies contributing to that fight. The fluidity in the circulation of goods, funds and persons was important to trade, economic prosperity and human development. At the same time, he acknowledged that international terrorism and organized crime had increasingly profited from globalization and technological progress to facilitate the development of illicit trafficking and movements, thereby seriously undermining the stability and development of States and regions.
For the Union and its member States, border management was a priority area of action to address and prevent those threats and challenges. The Union was addressing those threats of smuggling and trafficking at the borders by applying Global Approach to Migration and Mobility, and the role of the Union’s border agency, FRONTEX, had recently been strengthened. All that effort was supported by relevant legislation. Support to relevant United Nations international legal instruments and to United Nations programmes of technical assistance should help to further augment international cooperation to address those global threats and challenges. He stressed that the fight against illicit cross-border trafficking and movements needed international cooperation, sharing of best practices and standards, and the exchange of information and intelligence to develop a comprehensive picture of the threats and facilitate a coordinated approach.
PHILIPPA KING ( Australia) touched on solutions to the problem of illicit trafficking, focusing first on the role of regions and regional organizations. In the Asia-Pacific, regional initiatives and institutions had forged consensus on the application of global standards and norms. The dynamism of regional organizations had characterised the Asia-Pacific response, as many organizations had adapted their mandates to tackle the threats posed by illicit trafficking. Australia wished to contribute to regional solutions in other parts of the world, as well, and had been working with partners in the African Union on transnational crime guides. She supported a growing role for the United Nations in responding to regional needs.
Turning to capacity-building, she said the United Nations had a role in identifying capacity gaps. Australia strongly supported the Council’s model, set by the adoption of resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004), which established norms prohibiting illicit trafficking and created technical assistance frameworks. She urged a focus on preventing illicit trafficking based on sound analysis. An analysis of, and measures to, address such trafficking must be incorporated into political missions and peacebuilding activities. Illicit trafficking and border protection must be integrated with broader rule of law and development objectives.
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) said border security was the responsibility of national authorities, but the strengthening of capacities against illicit flows must be considered in a comprehensive manner, marked by sustained support for achieving political, economic and social betterment. Non-State actors, including terrorists and insurgents, exploited gaps in border security and tended to thrive in conditions of conflict and poverty, undermining State security. The international community, in line with international law, should help States strengthen national systems. Fully recognizing the importance of securing borders, Indonesia had adopted numerous laws and regulations to prevent and detect the movement of illicit materials and criminals.
He went on to say that a new immigration law had been enacted last May, and the border control management system had been expanded. Indonesia also had ratified the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its two protocols. Weak border management would allow terrorists to exploit the situation, and international cooperation was needed. His Government continued to enhance bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation. It had ratified seven international instruments related to terrorism prevention and, at the regional level, was deeply engaged in combating terrorism with other Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. On the illicit movement of material related to weapons of mass destruction, Indonesia continued to call for measures against the proliferation of nuclear and other illegal weapons.
MATEO ESTREME (Argentina) said it was fundamental to continue strengthening the cooperation mechanisms between neighbouring States, so that control could be ensured through the adoption of legislation and building national capacities to identify possible solutions to border-related challenges. Argentina had created in 2010 the Ministry of Security, and had worked with the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) Member States on firearms control and policy coordination in that field. His country also worked with other States in the region to implement resolution 1540 (2004).
While strengthening border security was essential to combat illicit flows, he highlighted non-traditional threats, including terrorism, arms trafficking, drug smuggling and organized crime. It was clear that it was not the Council’s task to assume the mandates of other structures, such as the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council or UNODC. Border security should not be at the expense of, or used as an excuse to impede or prevent the exercise of, basic human rights, such as migrants’ rights. “We do not believe that safety should come at the expense of the rule of law, nor do we accept the idea that human rights violations should be permissible under certain circumstances,” he said.
TSUNEO NISHIDA (Japan) said efforts to control illicit flows must include flows by sea and air, as well as by land. As a nation surrounded by sea, Japan had vital interests in securing sea borders to block such flows. Cyberspace was also a border that urgently required greater attention in terms of illegal transactions, technology transfer and classified information that may be usurped for the purposes of organized crime, terrorism and proliferation. Japan had actively participated in the Proliferation Security Initiative, which aimed to halt proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and it had hosted several of the Initiative’s maritime interdiction exercises. Japan had also conducted outreach towards non-participating countries, particularly in Asia, to enhance the inclusiveness of global non-proliferation. Japan operated strict border controls to prevent illicit flows, and it had developed a cross-organizational and multi-layered response that involved cooperation among relevant ministries and agencies, as well as training of personnel and outreach to exporters.
Japan recognized the urgent need to improve developing countries’ capacity and awareness to further coordinate efforts to fight illicit flows, he said. Every year, Japan held the Asian Export Control Seminar in Tokyo to deepen understanding of the importance of export control and to exchange views and information in the region; recently, members of the Sanctions Committee and the 1540 Committee had participated. Japan had also implemented various programmes aimed at helping developing countries build capacity in immigration control, air and seaport control, and customs. That included organizing a series of seminars, dispatching Japanese experts, organizing training programmes in respective countries, and providing equipment, such as X-ray inspection tools. While it was necessary to avoid duplication and to continue the discussion on more efficient ways to tackle the issue, in some cases, it was beneficial to address the threat of illicit flows with a multi-layered approach and without being afraid of overlaying efforts.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba), supporting the letter from the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement to the President of the Security Council, said by tackling the issue today, the Council was exceeding its functions, based on Article 24 of the United Nations Charter. The Council was usurping the functions of other United Nations bodies. Indeed, there was a reform of the United Nations under way. The illicit flows outlined in today’s conceptual document required coordinated action, including the possibility of States taking part in decision-making. The General Assembly must be allowed to carry out its proper role in addressing the issue. Eradicating some weapons being discussed today would not be possible without eradicating nuclear weapons. Yet, some Council members were opposed to eliminating the 23,000 such weapons that existed.
He said terrorism could not be countered while it was being promoted as a State policy. States could not combat drug trafficking without acting decisively against consumption markets. Strengthening border security required State action. Thousands of weapons had been illegally introduced into Cuba to assassinate innocent people. Eleven million Cubans were suffering under the economic blockade against the country. Cuban leader Fidel Castro had been subjected to more than 600 attempts on his life. The Committee against Terrorism had received information from Cuba on that issue. The double standards must stop. He urged cooperating on such issues on the basis of the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
SHIN DONG-IK (Republic of Korea) said the illicit flows of materials, funds and goods, as well as people, posed grave concerns to international peace and security. In particular, he noted that there were recent indications that flows of materials, in efforts to circumvent the tightening of national measures and international frameworks to counter them, had become smarter and more complicated, ranging from smuggling, trafficking, brokering, transhipment, re-export, and even engaging in cyberspace activities. By contrast, national and international measures to counter them remained both “static and outdated”; lacking the necessary coordination among Member States and the international organizations.
He warned that, in the absence of proper measures being taken to close those loopholes, that trend would pose an ever-growing threat to international efforts to maintain and foster global peace and security. States had the first responsibility to impose domestic measures with respect to securing their borders against illicit flows of any kind. Moreover, as the scourge continued to cross borders and occur at the margins of extra-territorial jurisdictions, close regional and international cooperation was highly needed. To that end, his country had redoubled its jurisdictional efforts and was determined to contribute to international actions to prevent and fight illicit transnational flows. Furthermore, with its well-advanced internet-based infrastructure, the Republic of Korea had effectively implemented its customs and export controls, particularly those regarding non-proliferation. Additionally, facing the new threats of illicit flows in cyberspace, the Republic of Korea, as a leading information technology powerhouse, was an active participant in international cooperation and collaboration for cyber security, and would host the Conference on Cyberspace in 2013 aimed at enhancing international efforts to address that issue.
EDUARDO ULIBARRI ( Costa Rica) said organized crime and drug smuggling not only affected international peace and security, it eroded economic and social development. Strategies to combat those scourges needed to take into account development, opportunities for youth, strengthening institutions, education and prevention.
Drug production and smuggling were a great problem in Central America, he said. A joint border control with the United States was among the steps his country had taken to tackle that challenge. Improved land and sea patrols were needed. Regional efforts had already resulted in a border security strategy, and more than 20 initiatives were being planned through international cooperation.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE (Iran), associating with the letter of the Non-Aligned Movement related to the agenda item of today’s debate, reiterated that the Council must stay within its mandate, as outlined in the Charter’s Article 24. Loose border controls posed major risks to the socio-economic and security situations of all nations. The Council’s deliberations on border-related issues had been outlined in various resolutions and presidential statements adopted in recent years. Iran had spared no effort in combating the illicit trade in small arms, organized crime, terrorism and drug trafficking.
He said Iran had worked to re-manage facilities and control systems in transit and border checkpoints, to prevent the entry of trafficking caravans into the country. States bore the primary duty for preventing and combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, including for identifying — and solving — the problems associated with it. Human trafficking was among the most serious manifestations of transnational organized crime and global cooperation should be used to target the demand side of the problem. Iran had taken steps to enhance border control to better fight such trafficking. He also said the Israeli delegate had made baseless allegations against Iran in today’s debate.
JIM MCLAY (New Zealand) said measures to combat illicit cross-border trafficking had been coordinated through the Pacific Islands Forum’s Regional Security Committee and through regional law enforcement groups, such as the Oceania Customs Organization, the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Peace, the Pacific Immigration Directors’ Conference, and the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre. New Zealand also supported its Pacific neighbours through bilateral capacity-building programmes. In partnership with the Forum Secretariat, New Zealand helped bring Pacific law enforcement officials together annually for a regional Working Group on Counter-Terrorism. This year’s event would address the link between terrorism and transnational organized crime and the synergies between capacity-building efforts in both areas. Since 2009, New Zealand had actively participated in the Trans-Pacific Network on Dismantling Transnational Illicit Networks; it hosted the second trans-Pacific workshop in 2010. To better understand regional threats, it had also partnered with Australia to fund UNODC’s Transnational Crime Threat Assessment for East Asia and the Pacific.
In June, New Zealand would fund a workshop for Caribbean Community partners on combating the illicit trade in firearms across borders, with a specific focus on maritime security, which had received insufficient attention in the United Nations, despite being a high priority for many States, he said. He called for stronger cooperation and coordination between United Nations agencies and with other relevant global bodies providing aid in that area. The United Nations should also consider a better way to integrate aid delivery on the ground, based on national and regional priorities. The Council should push for more coordinated aid by, for example, asking the Secretary-General to include advice on illicit trafficking and movements in Council reports. Illicit trafficking movements must be viewed through a broader lens than just that of enhanced border controls.
RAYMOND WOLFE ( Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said States in his region collectively and individually had undertaken various measures to secure their borders against illicit flows. Through the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, efforts had been made to harmonize and standardize policies, practices and procedures used by border security agencies. CARICOM States also had taken steps to secure their borders against the illicit flows of money and equipment that could be used for terrorist acts. They had advocated that more attention be placed on border control, as a part of the broader crime prevention measures, and to prevent the flows of small arms and light weapons and ammunition to the region.
The United Nations had an important role to play in assisting States in improving their border security and management capacity, he said. While acknowledging the distinctions among the categories of illicit items that flowed across national borders, he believed a more comprehensive approach to border management and security by the Organization would be a more effective approach in the long run. He agreed with the proposal to assess United Nations structures with a view to determining the extent to which they were meeting States’ capacity-building needs. But, such a review should not lead to any contraction of State capacity-building programmes currently in place.
GAREN NAZARIAN ( Armenia) said illicit trafficking and movement impacted security, human rights and socioeconomic development, especially in developing countries. Secure borders meant non-proliferation, and that threats were localized. Given the enormity of current threats, the successful implementation of strategic decisions to combat the problem could not be undertaken without a coordinated approach. For the last decade, Armenia had cooperated in the combat against transnational organized crime. Armenia had worked closely with regional partners like the Council of Europe, the European Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and United Nations agencies in such areas as legal reform, border control and intelligence systems.
Indeed, deeper cooperation had been established to fight border crimes and enhance border security, he said. Secure borders were important in the South Caucasus, where unresolved conflicts were used as an excuse for holding enormous amounts of arms and drugs, and where terrorist acts were carried out, which were of the utmost concern. Armenia had spared no effort in applying preventive measures. “Prevention is the best defence against illicit cross-border trafficking,” he said, noting that through education, awareness raising and improved legislation, Armenia could multiply the effectiveness of its efforts. He supported the proposal for an assessment of United Nations efforts in that area.
MORTEN WETLAND (Norway) said his country was acutely aware of the devastating results of illicit trade in drugs, small arms and humans, especially for countries in transition from conflict. Transnational criminals were moving between licit and illicit markets and taking advantage of safe havens to maximize profit. The cocaine flow from Latin America, through West Africa, to Europe was but one example of how criminals were exploiting porous borders and weak customs and police control. The challenge was to crack down on criminals without hampering legal trade and that was what would happen by imposing general, rigid and time-consuming border control for all goods and people.
Strategies must include measures for detecting illicit flows before they entered border areas, he said, which required an exchange of intelligence among all law enforcement and customs agencies. He pointed to the Schengen cooperation of European countries as a tested example where borders were generally open but where controls and arrests could take place at other points along the transport route. Renewed focus on transnational organized crime and the establishment of the Task Force on that matter was a step in the right direction. Cooperation among the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the Security Council working groups should strengthen the United Nations ability to support States. Stronger political commitments from Governments in all regions were also needed.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO (Venezuela) voiced concern at the attempt to deal with illicit flows by looking at differentiated categories: illicit drug shipments, contraband, terrorist elements and their funds, materials related to weapons of mass destruction and conflict minerals. Not all illicit cross-border flows threatened international peace and security. The capitalist system, which punished the poor and tried to ensure quick monetary gain, was at the heart of such movements. Indeed, cut-throat capitalism was the systemic foundation for transnational crime. Inhumane neoliberal policies had deepened inequalities. Its agencies did not believe in democracy or sovereignty. He rejected attempts to amalgamate different illicit flows with different illicit activities, stressing the need for each topic to be addressed distinctly within the framework of national policies and laws.
He reiterated the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity and non-intervention in matters that fell under exclusive State purview. In Venezuela, a constitutional and legislative framework had been approved by its people through a referendum. That should be stressed when attempts were made to carry out multilateral initiatives. Thousands of small arms and light weapons had been confiscated in his country. Controls should be established, notably by manufacturing countries, to ensure that weapons sales were limited to Governments, in line with the right to self defence. He underlined the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects in that regard. To reduce the consequences of illicit flows, he urged ending the “voracious appetite” of transnational companies.
IBRAHIM O. A. DABBASHI (Libya) said border security was a major regional challenge. Trafficking across the borders went far into history, with many people living from the illegal trading. However, the phenomenon of trafficking had become a terrorist act, because the actions of those groups extended beyond drugs and weapons and had become a competition between them. The recent Tripoli Plan of Action had been submitted to the Secretary-General, but regrettably had not yet been published. Recent events in Mali had sounded an alarm bell, threatening northern African States. Armed groups had gathered in the areas controlled by separatist groups, which had been trained and funded by the al-Qadhafi regime.
He hoped United Nations bodies would give due importance to those problems and support the Tripoli Plan of Action adopted by the countries of the region and provide assistance to consolidate institutions and ensure capacity-building. His country was striving to promote cooperation with neighbouring States. He called on all States and international organizations to aid in the apprehension of Mr. al-Qadhafi’s son and other senior officials from the al-Qadhafi regime.
TÉTE ANTÓNIO, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations, said the goal of the Union’s border programme was to address related issues regarding delimitation and demarcation alongside cross-border cooperation with an aim to prevent conflicts and promote integration. Already, the 2012 deadline for completion had been missed. The Malian crisis and others in the Sahel region, Guinea-Bissau and elsewhere were great threats to peace and security.
The illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons continued to pose serious threats and challenges on the continent and called for strengthening the capacity of African countries to implement subregional and continental legally-binding instruments, such as the Bamako Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, among others, he said. Those ongoing situations in the continent were the best illustration of the relevance of the Council President’s initiative to place the issue on the Council’s agenda, which he believed could only be tackled through concerted regional and international efforts, including building on existing regional and international mechanisms and instruments.
ANDREI SAVINYKH (Belarus) said his country had expended resources and efforts to protect its borders. The effect of those initiatives could be felt in countries in the region, including the breaking up of a crime network. For all its efforts, he said Belarus could be called a regional “exporter of security”.
He supported the idea expressed by the United States and Norway. In addition, the Committee on Trade in Europe had taken discussions on border-related issues further. Now, there was a possibility of a pan-European trade monitoring system, removing the time spent and “red tape” regarding business transactions. However, expense for border protection was climbing, he said, appealing for cooperation for continuing to implement initiatives.
NKOLOI NKOLOI ( Botswana) said concerted efforts were required to address cross-border illegal trafficking in arms, humans, drugs and minerals and wildlife trophies. Efforts to combat those challenges should also involve giving special attention to improving border control, immigration and customs security. A comprehensive approach would save both time and costs in the global efforts to stem illicit flows.
The international community should also join efforts in prioritizing border control in the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. Botswana also placed a high premium on the conclusion of an arms trade treaty in July, as an effective and balanced legally-binding instrument for the transfer of conventional arms. His country would support such a treaty, whose implementation included closer international cooperation and assistance in the prevention of illicit flows across borders.
Mr. NAZEN (Syria), referring to a letter sent from the Non-Aligned Movement to the President of the Security Council, said that his country was coping with terrorist acts aimed at destroying public and private property and attacking civilians and the Government. His country had underlined the threat of illicit arms flows across borders. Yesterday, his country sent a letter to the Council’s President containing a list of individuals trafficking weapons into Syria. The Council should send a clear message to those who stood behind such acts, both States and groups, to cease and desist, he said.
Referring to the Israeli delegate’s statement, he said lies could not replace the truth, being that Israel was the main source of instability in the region, due in part to its occupation of Arab land, including the Syrian Golan. Israel had a horrid history of aggression, including using cluster bombs on the day the Council approved a resolution in 2006 to halt Israeli action against Lebanon. Israel’s involvement in the illicit weapons trade encouraged instability. Acts of international aggression and piracy by Israel could not be hidden, he said.
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