The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on Thursday said it was playing an important role in the United Nations effort to limit the movement of foreign terrorist fighters.
A statement issued by ICAO’s Communications Chief, Mr Anthony Philbin, said the Secretary General of ICAO, Dr Fang Liu, made this known at the official launch of the United Nations Countering Terrorist Travel Programme (UNCTTP) at UN Headquarters in New York.
Liu emphasised that aviation security and the facilitation of passenger movements were important and reciprocal priorities in air transport.
She also outlined the advances ICAO had made in support of the corresponding priorities defined in UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions 2178, 2309, 2368, and 2396 in relation to Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs).
“Our agency’s efforts in this area have been guided by consecutive amendments to the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) contained in Annex 9 to the Chicago Convention, which focuses directly on facilitating passenger travel.
“These serve as important tools in support of improved travel security, and cover critical areas of government responsibility relating to air transport facilitation and security priorities,” Liu said.
According to her, the programme is focused mainly on UNSC resolution 2396 (2016), and specifically its call for UN member States to develop capabilities to collect, process and analyse Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, in addition to sharing it with all of their competent national authorities.
She noted that sharing of PNR data among countries was seen as critical to the objective of better identifying higher-risk travellers while streamlining the experience of lower risk passengers.
Liu, however, stressed that the efforts of the UN in these areas must be matched by meaningful State commitments in order to address all related gaps and targets.
“Although UNSC resolution 2396 has placed a legal impetus on all States to develop effective PNR programmes, we must recognise together that only 26 States are currently requesting PNR data,” she underscored.
She also drew attention to the closely related call in UNSC Resolution 2178 (2014) on the related Advanced Passenger Information or ‘API’ data objective, noting that “just 68 of ICAO’s 193 member States have presently established an API system.”
Liu highlighted that ICAO had already developed an API standard under Annex 9 (Facilitation) to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), one which became applicable in February 2018.
She added that the conclusions of a special ICAO PNR standard Task Force would be reported on later this year.
“ICAO remains committed to contributing to appropriate API and PNR systems and to actively participate in the implementation of the UNCT Travel Programme.
” “But everyone involved in this effort must remain cognisant that our cooperation will only be effective if its results are supported by our Member States,” the secretary general said.