WCO launches security project for customs in West and Central Africa

Nigeria's Comptroller General of Customs Hameed Ali

The World Customs Organisation has launched a security project for customs administrations in West and Central Africa. It is called Programme Global Shield. It is designed to help them respond to the security challenges posed by the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The security project follows up on the WCO Punta Cana Resolution of 2015 and the subsequent adoption of the WCO Global Counter Terrorism Strategy. The Government of Japan provides financial support to the Project, with a contribution of over 3 million US dollars.

The security project, according to the WCO website, was launched at the 23rd Conference of Directors General of Customs of the WCO West and Central Africa (WCA) Region in Conakry, Guinea on 25 April 2018.

Secretary General of WCO, Mikuriya stressed that the WCO Security Project, through the implementation of Programme Global Shield in the WCA Region, will greatly contribute to supporting Customs administrations and other relevant stakeholders in the protection of society and to further securing the supply chain.

He highlighted the fact that Programme Global Shield has been referred to positively in several high-level United Nations (UN) resolutions, and that it addressed the multifaceted challenges faced by Customs and border agencies when controlling highly technical or potentially dangerous materials, such as chemicals that could be used to manufacture IEDs.

Speaking at the conference, the Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Guinea, Mr. Hisanobu Hasama, said the new WCO Security Project is a solid building block following on from the “G7 Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism”, adopted at the G7 Summit held in Ise Shima, Japan in 2016.

He expressed his hope that the project would successfully enable Customs administrations and border agencies to enhance their capacities to address terrorist threats, leading to deeper cooperation and a more secure environment for the Region’s citizens and economies.

The Vice-Chair of the WCO West and Central Africa Region, Mr. Pierre Alphonse Da, Director General of Customs of Côte d’Ivoire, referred to the increase in terrorist activity in the Region and to the need for Customs to evolve and leverage its capacity to help mitigate this threat.

Mr. Makoto Fujishiro, Director General of Tokyo Customs, Japan, highlighted the crucial role of Customs in border control and surveillance and the resulting ability to be a key player in the fight against terrorism.  He also shared Japan‘s experience of the use of modern technologies promoted by the Security Project, such as the use of Raman spectrometers for the analysis and identification of chemicals.

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