“The Council’s intention in adopting its resolution 2309 was to significantly reduce the terrorist threat to civil aviation, including by helping to strengthen Member States’ implementation of security-related International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices,” stated His Excellency, Ambassador Tarek Ladeb, Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), at the virtual open briefing on “Terrorist threats to civil aviation, the status of implementation of Security Council resolution 2309 (2016), and follow-up to the civil aviation-related provisions of Council resolution 2396 (2017)” held on 2 December 2020.
The CTC virtual open briefing focused on challenges, gaps and vulnerabilities relevant to civil aviation within the counter-terrorism context. Implementation of ICAO’s steps continues to pose significant practical and political challenges for many States, said Mr. Ladeb. According to the Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), Assistant Secretary-General Michèle Coninsx, CTED assessments continue to reveal that:
- “Many Governments do not sufficiently engage in dialogue with all actors involved in the implementation of national aviation-security measures.
- A number of States have not yet recognized the need to adopt a risk-based approach and develop a common assessment methodology.
- Many have not yet established mechanisms for the effective and timely sharing of national and international threat information with frontline aviation-security staff.
- Many States continue to lack access to relevant databases (including INTERPOL databases) and/or to the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Lists.”
The United Kingdom was a sponsor of Security Council resolution 2309(2016). Sarah Nacey, Deputy Director of Aviation Security Strategy and Policy, Department for Transport for the United Kingdom recalled that SCR 2309 (2016) gave boost to and raised the profile of efforts to increase aviation security standards globally. Ms. Nacey recognized the swift progress that was made in developing the 2017 Global Aviation Security Plan; adjusting the focus of ICAO’s Universal Security Audit Programme to understand how Annex 17 standards and recommended practices are implemented on the ground; and through the Working Groups of the Aviation Security Panel, help States grapple with new and emerging threats such as cyber and unmanned aircrafts.
Anne-Maria Seesmaa, a Legal Officer at CTED referred to the CTC/CTED’s priority technical assistance needs and recommendations from 2016 – 2020, identifying continuing challenges in areas such as States’ capabilities to conduct risk assessments and analysis, procuring security and detection equipment, establishing connectivity at front lines and establishing coordination among States’ relevant domestic departments and agencies.
In accordance with resolution 2309 (2016), CTED and ICAO signed a formal cooperation agreement in 2018 to further strengthen their longstanding partnership. The agreement was accompanied by a joint action plan. Whenever possible, ICAO takes part in CTED country assessment visits on behalf of the Committee, during which ICAO standards and recommended practices and guidance materials are routinely discussed and promoted, said ASG Coninsx.
“2020 has confronted ICAO with the worst global crisis in the history of international aviation,” stated Dr. Fang Liu, Secretary General of ICAO. However, Dr. Liu noted that ICAO responded effectively to ensure vital air operations and continuity of steady progress in aviation security and facilitation. Sylvain Lefoyer, Deputy Director of the Aviation Security and Facilitation of the Air Transport Bureau of ICAO said there is a re-prioritization of current activities to address a safe restarting of air transport operations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
CTED and ICAO also cooperate through the UN Countering Terrorist Travel Programme and through “deep-dive” missions undertaken to assess and enhance Member States’ capacities to implement API and PNR in accordance with resolution 2396 (2016) and Annex 9 to the “Chicago Convention”. Rachel Mourad, Programme Management Officer at CTED noted that some of the challenges observed during deep-dives include human rights and privacy, adoption of a legal framework and cross-checking of data against relevant watchlists and databases. Our capacity-building is based on CT Travel assessment missions, said Simon Deignan, Programme Management Officer at the UN Countering Terrorist Travel Programme. “In January 2021, we will launch a new project – ‘The Model for Integrating Threat Assessment into Aviation Security Risk Management Frameworks’ or the TAM Initiative,” said Rachel Manis, Programme Management Officer at the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism.
The virtual open briefing also discussed existing policies, instruments and tools developed to effectively manage risks to civil aviation and enhance effective implementation of these Security Council resolutions. The Special Representative of the International Criminal Police Organization to the United Nations, Emmanuel Roux, spoke about Operation Sunbird IV, which saw close to 15 million searches made against INTERPOL’s databases at 90 border points across the region. This led to the arrest of 24 individuals.
In light of new and emerging terrorist threats and new technological developments, the CTC Chair said States need to be encouraged and supported to continue strengthening implementation of good aviation practices.
The concept note of the virtual open briefing is available here.
The agenda of the virtual open briefing is available here.
The webcast of the proceedings is available here.
Additional resources about the Security Council Guiding Principles on Foreign Terrorist Fighters are available here.
Remarks and presentations shared by the participants:
- Sarah Nacey, Deputy Director of Aviation Security Strategy and Policy, United Kingdom
- Sylvain Lefoyer, Deputy Director, Aviation Security and Facilitation, Air Transport Bureau, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- Anne-Maria Seesmaa, Legal Officer, Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED)
- Rachel Mourad, Programme Management Officer, Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED)