Inaugural Conference of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre-Global Counterterrorism Forum Border Security Initiative

On 21-22 July 2015, the Kingdom of Morocco hosted the inaugural conference of the joint United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) – Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) Border Security Initiative (BSI) in El Jadida, Morocco.

The conference built on the 2013 Rabat Conference on border control cooperation in the Sahel and Maghreb regions. Participants reviewed the crucial role that border security and management plays in combating terrorism, foreign terrorist-fighters (FTF), and cross-border criminal organizations. They also explored various border security and management models covering a range of strategies and action plans, including border community engagement, effective border surveillance methods, comprehensive cross-border cooperation, biometrics and verification of travelers at ports of entry, as well as the importance of creating an effective proportionality between technology based solutions and well trained border law enforcement officers. The discussions informed the development of a non-binding, globally focused paper with good practices based on lessons learned in relation to border security and management.

Key themes of the discussions during the 2-day conference included but were not limited to:

  • Effective border security and management are key components of national security
  • Poverty in border communities is a contributing factor to cross-border crimes 
  • Engagement with border and/or nomadic communities
  • Border surveillance and verification technologies are crucial for modern border security and management models
  • Enhanced cross-border cooperation provides mutual benefits to neighboring states in managing and controlling shared borders
  • Tensions between freedom of movement and public safety and national security

Opening Remarks

The Honorable Cherki Drais, Minister Delegate of the Ministry of Interior, Government of the Kingdom of Morocco, welcomed participants and thanked the GCTF and UNCCT for making the conference possible. He noted that effective border security and management requires international cooperation and strategies and expressed his confidence that the conference would lead to a better understanding that will capture various experiences and share approaches that are beyond the capacity of any single country.

Mr. Mattew Lussenhop, Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires of theUnited States Embassy to the Kingdom of Morocco, reiterated the vital role border security and management plays in combating terrorism and cross-border criminal activities. He noted the importance of meeting new challenges posed by terrorists and international organized criminal organizations across the globe.

Mr. Steven Siqueira, Deputy Director of the UN CTITF and UNCCT, noted that this inaugural conference on border security and management and related future activities will enhance the counter-terrorism effort around the world. He also noted that transnational conflicts involving organizations such as the Islamic State (ISIL), Boko Haram, and others, continue to challenge border security and management forces across the region and globe, making this event timely and important. He previewed follow up BSI events in Cairns, Australia, as well as two workshops in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa each, which will focus on more region-specific lessons and good practices.

Sessions

  • Key Principles of Border Security and Management Models Including Inter-Agency Cooperation and Coordination
  • Risk Analysis, Threat Assessment, and Information Gathering
  • Illegal Cross-Border Movement of Terrorists and Nexus between Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime
  • Effective Border Surveillance and Control of Green and Blue Borders
  • Interventions from participating Member States

Next Steps

UNCCT reiterated participants’ call for progress in border security and management through exchange of good practices based on lessons learned and cross-border cooperation. Participants agreed that there is no single model to secure and manage borders effectively, but there are certainly good practices, which were developed through learning processes and based on good cross-border cooperation.

Follow on events will include two workshops in fall 2015 and two workshops in spring 2016, with dates and locations to be announced in the coming weeks.

The inaugural conference was closed with the provision of remarks from officials from the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco, U.S. State Department and UNCCT.