In a comprehensive aviation security update presented on 28th September to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu called on this UN prominent body to promote greater international awareness and implementation in aid of ICAO’s new Global Aviation Security Plan (GASeP).
“This pivotal document, which focuses extensively on the threat of terrorism to civil aviation, has benefited from extensive inputs on behalf of both governments and industry,” Dr. Liu commented. “Its objectives align with those of UN Security Council Resolution 2309, and once finalized it will be the primary tool by which the aviation security community fulfills its diverse roles.”
The new ICAO GASeP is seen as a natural outcome arising from the UN aviation agency’s global leadership role in air transport security coordination. The GASeP’s core objectives are to enhance risk awareness and response, establish a better-defined security culture, refine related technologies while fostering innovations, and improve oversight and quality assurance while increasing cooperation among member States, global and local organizations.
It is currently expected to be approved by the ICAO Council at its next Session this November, and in the ensuing months a key priority will be to ramp up related global commitments and outreach.
“All States are therefore encouraged to strengthen their support to ICAO’s work on aviation security, ensure the implementation of the Global Aviation Security Plan (GASeP) as a matter of high priority, and cooperate on global, regional, and national levels to raise the level of effective implementation of global aviation security,” Dr. Liu said. “It will only be by virtue of sustained political will, especially at the highest levels of government and industry, that the GASeP will succeed,” she stressed.
Adding to her call for UN Security Council support for the GASeP, Dr. Liu highlighted that “obtaining financial support is another major area where UN entities can assist ICAO. To meet the security targets identified in the GASeP, and its associated regional roadmaps, capacity development and technology assistance programmes must expand significantly.”
Dr. Liu took advantage of her presentation to provide new updates to the Security Council on ICAO’s updating of its Global Risk Context Statement, its efforts to increase sector-wide awareness on landside security, explosives detection, and cybersecurity, as well as on related aviation security capacity-building projects in line with its No Country Left Behind initiative.
“In addition to these developments, this year’s adoption of an Advance Passenger Information (API) Standard, which becomes effective on 23 October, 2017, will now make it harder for Foreign Terrorist Fighters to move between States,” she added.
Other priorities discussed during the UN Security Council Session included persistent challenges with respect to sharing key information on recent incidents, and the attack, including landside gaps at airport facilities, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Portable Electronic Devices, cybersecurity and Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS).
“Each of these threats potentially generates a new layer of technology requirements, which becomes costly not only in terms of equipment purchase but also in building renovations, training and maintenance requirements. This slows down security procedures and has other effects on operations and facilitation,” Dr. Liu remarked. She further highlighted the need to keep an appropriate balance between the necessary level of aviation security and the passenger experience and the facilitation objectives.
In concluding, Dr. Liu reiterated calls for stronger international support to aviation security. “Through key mechanisms such as Resolution 2309 (2016), we must continue to work together on aviation security.”
Security Council members were in full agreement that civil aviation remained an attractive target for terrorists, and that international cooperation must be increased to continuously strengthen security throughout the global air transport network under the framework provided by ICAO and the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention). They also recognized the importance of information-sharing, more resources, and cooperation in capacity-building and technical assistance.
The ICAO briefing was received positively by the Security Council members who commended the work of ICAO, congratulated it for having sped up the development of the GASeP, and reaffirmed their political support. They recalled the need to use the ICAO regulatory framework for the implementation of GASeP, the international expertise of ICAO for capacity-building and training assistance activities, and welcomed recent progress on a cooperation arrangement between ICAO and the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED).
Ambassador Philippe Bertoux, Representative of France on the ICAO Council and Chair of the Committee on Unlawful Interference, and Mr. Saud A.R. Hashem, Representative of Saudi Arabia on the Council, Chair of the Air Transport Committee, were also in attendance.
Dr. Liu also held meetings while in New York with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterres, with the newly appointed UN Under Secretary General, in charge of the Office for Counter Terrorism, Mr Vladimir Ivanovitch Voronkov, and with delegations of States members of the Security Council.