Countering Terrorist Travel

.Countering terrorist travel. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Countering terrorist travel. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

"Just two years ago, we estimated that over 40,000 foreign terrorist fighters from more than 110 countries may have travelled to join terrorist groups in the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq."

-- UN Secretary-General António Guterres remarks at the official launch of the United Nations Countering Terrorist Travel Programme, 7 May 2019.

Building detection capabilities

The UN Countering Terrorist Travel Programme, a flagship global initiative of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), assists Member States in building their capabilities to detect and counter terrorists and serious criminals. This is achieved by collecting and using advance passenger information (API), and passenger name record (PNR) data to improve the use of international databases, such as INTERPOL databases, with data relating to known and suspected terrorist and criminals, and enhance information exchange, in accordance with Security Council resolutions 2178 (2014), 2396 (2017), and 2482 (2019) and relevant privacy laws.

In an “All-of-UN” partnership with UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), UN Office of Information and Communication Technology (OICT) and INTERPOL, the Programme provides comprehensive assistance to Member States in legislative, operational, transport industry engagement, and technical areas. This includes the donation and deployment of the UN 'goTravel' software system. The Programme has been designed in accordance with human rights principles and UN policies in this regard.

How we support Member States

UN Countering Terrorist Travel Programme diagram

Four pillars 

The Programme provides assistance to Member States across four key pillars of work;   

  • Pillar I provides legislative assistance to draft or strengthen legal frameworks to regulate the collection, transmission, use, retention, and sharing of passenger data in compliance with internationally recognized standards and human rights principles.   
  • Pillar II supports the set-up of a Passenger Information Unit (PIU) to facilitate a passenger data single window, which has the capacity to use an intelligence-led approach to conduct risk assessments, implement appropriate targeting measures, as well as identify, detect and intercept FTFs and other serious criminals. To support this, our capacity-building includes training, drafting of national standard operating procedures, and the sharing of expertise.  
  • Pillar III provides support in establishing carrier engagement and connectivity. This is done through close cooperation with the transport industry. Through collaboration, the country can partner with the industry and securely collect the data by electronic means.  
  • Pillar IV provides technical support and expertise for the ‘goTravel’ software, which is an effective software solution for countries to collect and process passenger data. We support Member states by deploying this software free of charge and in providing all the required support and maintenance to run the system. 

Analyzing passenger data

The detection capability, commonly referred to as a ‘Passenger Information Unit’ (PIU), analyzes passenger data received from multiple modes of transportation (including air, maritime, and land modes) and identifies known and suspected terrorists by cross-checking against national and international databases and watchlists, including those of INTERPOL, and previously unknown threats using risk indicators. The PIU works to detect and track threats and alert national and international competent authorities, helping to investigate or interdict individuals associated with terrorism and other serious crimes.

Regional Informal Working Groups and Cooperative Online Platform (COP)

The CT Travel Programme also supports Member States to establish Regional Informal Working Groups designed to promote information exchange and the sharing of good practices and lessons learned, thereby significantly enhancing the national implementation and detection capability. The Programme’s digital solution, the Cooperative Online Platform (COP), gives Member States access to globally and regionally shared information and allows Member States to collaborate with one another.

Online training programme

The CT Travel online training programme covers all four essential areas of implementation: legal, operational, carrier engagement, and technical – including technical assistance on the deployment and operational use of the UN 'goTravel' software system, donated to beneficiary Member States.

This online training programme is designed to deliver the most up-to-date knowledge, lessons learned, and good practices to new PIU operators as well as policymakers and relevant Ministries and operational agencies involved in their PIU construction.


For any further information, please visit

Image of the CT Travel donor list

The UN Countering Terrorist Travel Programme

The Programme, launched in May 2019, assist Member States to meet the obligations of Security Council resolutions by enhancing their detection capacity against foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and serious criminals.


UNOCT CT Travel Team 

The Countering Terrorist Travel Programme Team supports Member States’ national competent authorities from beginning to end. Get in touch with the CT Travel Team

goTravel software solution

'goTravel' is part of UNOCT's comprehensive Member State software support package to counter terrorist travel. The Countering Terrorist Travel Programme brochure provides detailed information about our software solution 'goTravel'. Get the brochure and learn more about the Programme.

Countering terrorist travel resources