Aviation Security Week discusses responses to terrorist mobility, emerging threats

The security of global air transport operations took an important step forward this week, with a series of new agreements and recommendations on progress made in coordinating responses to terrorist mobility and emerging threats.

The new agreements and recommendations are forged in Montréal, Canada, by the world’s most prominent aviation security administrations and bodies. They made the agreements during the 2018 International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Aviation Security Symposium and Conference (AVSEC) Week.

On the future approaches to managing aviation security risks, the conference has also discussed on a working paper presented by by Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Italy, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Portugal, Qatar, Russian Federation, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Airports Council International and International Air Transport Association.

The working paper discusses the need for and importance of promoting awareness of aviation security to other agencies and organizations, especially those that have a role and/or operations in the civil aviation eco-system.

“Global terrorism and threats against international air transport operations
such as insider and cyber threats continue to exist and evolve, and need to be addressed, taking into account passenger traffic growth. Awareness of those threats and associated risks must be enhanced through information sharing between States and with stakeholders, and through continued attention to the Global Risk Context Statement,” ICAO said in its communiqué issued at the closing of the Conference on Friday.

More than 500 delegates representing 107 countries and 22 international organizations participating in ICAO’s Second High-level Conference on Aviation Security (HLCAS/2) finalized recommendations for new security standards and strategies to be reviewed by the 40th ICAO Assembly next year.

These recommendations were reflected in the HLCAS/2 Communiqué endorsed by the high-level delegates in attendance.

The conference was opened by the President of the Council, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu in conjunction with Canada’s Deputy Minister of Transport Mr. Michael Keenan.

In his opening remarks, the President of the Council, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, highlighted the importance of information sharing and that “the present threat environment is more dynamic, diverse, and challenging than ever before.”

He tasked HLCAS/2 participants with defining security measures which are effective, efficient, operationally viable, and economically sustainable, recognizing as well the important need to assess the impacts of any considered measures on air transport’s much more prevalent low-risk passengers.

Areas of focus he stressed in this regard included threats from insiders and Remotely-piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) attacks, and cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

“Our message to the world could not be clearer,” underscored ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu in her closing remarks to the conference. “ICAO, its Member States, the industry and our other partners are addressing the threat to civil aviation with great determination, ambition, and unity of purpose.”

She also focused on the importance of striking an effective balance between the effectiveness of security measures and their impacts on the air transport customer base, noting that “from the consumers’ standpoint, it is nothing short of vital that we address security risks with solutions which pose a minimum of passenger or shipper inconvenience. Any other approach will not be sustainable.”

In closing, Dr. Liu reminded the experts and senior officials present that “the true measure of our AVSEC success lies ultimately in the successful and sustainable prevention of unlawful interference with civil aviation.”

The HLCAS/2 was preceded by ICAO’s Global Aviation Security Symposium (AVSEC2018), where industry, academic and government experts collectively addressed security innovation and implementation priorities.

The conference reaffirmed that the security-related components of Annex 9 ˗ Facilitation – such as the use of Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data are effective to prevent terrorists and other criminals from carrying out their acts or escaping prosecution.

In its communiqué, ICAO also recalled that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) acknowledged the importance of enhancing aviation security to combat terrorist threats to international civil aviation and address concerns of foreign terrorist fighters, with the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2309 (2016) in September 2016 and Resolution 2396 (2017) in December 2017.

Edited by Andualem Sisay Gessesse