OSCE participating States have recognized the vulnerabilities of container shipments and the important role that enhancing container security can play in promoting international trade and economic co-operation. At the OSCE Ministerial Council in Sofia in 2004 they committed to act without delay in accordance with their domestic legislation, and the necessary resources available, to enhance container security, based on best practices and on norms and standards to be agreed internationally (MC.DEC/9/04).
As part of the implementation of this decision, the OSCE Action against Terrorism Unit (ATU) organized a two-day Technical Experts Workshop on Container Security in Vienna in February 2005. The workshop discussed the vulnerability of containers as a potential means of carrying out a terrorist attack, the importance of taking all necessary measures to address this vulnerability, and how the OSCE could support the activities of specialized international organizations providing assistance to OSCE participating States in this field.
Welcoming the results of this expert workshop, the 2005 Ministerial Council in Ljubljana (MC.DEC/6/05) decided that all OSCE participating States should, as soon as possible, take the measures recommended in the World Customs Organization (WCO) Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade (SAFE) adopted in June 2005. The decision also called on the OSCE Secretariat to facilitate technical assistance in the field of container security by the WCO and other relevant international organizations.
ATU's container/supply chain security activities are following three tracks: promoting national implementation of the SAFE Framework; promoting the development and implementation of an integrated approach to supply chain security; and supporting the work of other specialized international organizations with relevance to container/supply chain security.
Promoting national implementation of the SAFE Framework of Standards
The ATU has helped WCO organize national SAFE workshops for five OSCE participating States since 2006. The workshops have enabled these countries to draw up strategic action plans for their implementation of the SAFE Framework. WCO and the ATU are now considering whether and how the OSCE can provide assistance for specific actions under these national plans, such as training, providing equipment and supporting cross-border co-operation.
The ATU's co-operation with the WCO is increasing further. The ATU was granted observer status to the SAFE Working Group, which meets twice a year at the WCO to discuss implementation progress and possible improvements of the SAFE Framework. The ATU is also now supporting WCO regional workshops for Europe on key elements of the SAFE Framework, such as a workshop on the use of non-intrusive inspection technologies by customs to scan suspicious containers (Saint-Petersburg, June 2010), a workshop on risk management (Sevan, Armenia, October 2010) and another on rolling out an Authorized Economic Operator programme (Skopje, May 2011).
Promoting the development of an integrated approach to supply chain security
OSCE participating States mandated the OSCE in 2007 to serve as a platform for co-ordination and co-operation between relevant international organizations and national authorities for the development and implementation of an integrated approach to supply chain security (MC.DOC/3/07).
On this basis, the ATU organized a "Workshop on Integrated Approach to Supply Chain Security for the Mediterranean Region" on 16-17 December 2009 in St Julian's, Malta. The workshop brought together senior government experts from 17 OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation from the Mediterranean Region, as well as experts from 20 international organizations and private sector associations, to discuss how to enhance inter-modal supply chain security while facilitating legitimate trade and transportation. The workshop was followed by a visit of Malta's transhipment port "Freeport" kindly facilitated by the Department of Customs of Malta.
The ATU is now offering to interested (groups of ) participating States the organization of workshops in a similar format as an opportunity to discuss and review progress on a wide range issues, including inter-agency co-ordination and integrated border management, cross-border co-operation and harmonization of requirements and procedures, public-private partnerships and authorized economic operator concept, use of modern technologies, risk management, export control.
Co-operation with other organizations
ILO/IMO Code of Practice on Security in Ports
The ATU has helped promote the Code of Practice on Security in Ports, developed jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). At the invitation of the ILO, the ATU collaborated on the expansion of the training package related to the Code of Practice, to cover the work of other entities and organizations, in particular the WCO, the European Commission (EC), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
After a trial training workshop organized in June 2006 in which the ATU participated, the training package was further modified and a second training event was jointly organized by the OSCE and ILO in Istanbul, Turkey, in December 2006, involving also the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the IAEA. The OSCE also organized in October 2006 jointly with ILO a Workshop on Security in Ports, held in Antwerp, Belgium, which focused on the Code of Practice.
UNODC/WCO Container Control Programme
At the invitation of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the ATU started in 2010 to support the implementation of the joint UNODC/WCO Container Control Programme (CCP). The CCP helps developing countries establish and train inter-agency Port Control Units to identify and inspect high-risk freight containers in order to prevent trafficking.
As a first step, the ATU is supporting the implementation of the CCP in Georgia, and facilitated a tripartite port and container security needs assessment visit by a team of UNODC/WCO/OSCE experts in May 2010. The team held several meetings with Georgian law enforcement agencies in Tbilisi and visited the ports of Batumi and Poti on the Black Sea. The findings of the mission are now serving as a basis for defining modalities for the implementation of the CCP in Georgia, and deciding how the OSCE can help further.
For more information on ATU's container/supply chain security activities please contact the ATU directly.
Other container/supply chain security relevant activities are carried out by the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, the Borders Team of the OSCE Secretariat's Conflict Prevention Centre, as well as OSCE field operations depending on their respective mandates.