The UNODC-WCO Global Container Control Programme discusses priorities and sets up the Inter-Regional Information Exchange on Urgent Queries

On 15-16 March 2022, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office for Central Asia (UNODC) conducted the Inter-Regional Expert-Level Meeting under the Inter-Regional Network of Customs Authorities and Port Control Units (IREN) of the UNODC-WCO Global Container Control Programme (CCP) jointly with the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The meeting, aimed at launching the permanent Inter-Regional Group on Urgent Queries under the IREN to liaise and ensure swift communication among the Port and Air Cargo Control Units (PCUs/ACCUs) and facilitate information exchange and discussing IREN accomplishments and needs, has brought together over 40 experts from Customs Services and other competent authorities of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as representatives and experts from UNODC and WCO.

Welcoming the meeting participants, Ms. Ashita Mittal, the UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia stressed that engagement of so many countries in the meeting shows a strong united alliance in combating drugs, organized crime, and terrorism. Ms. Mittal underlined the following: CCP represents an important element of that comprehensive strategic approach and plays an essential role in UNODC’s Border Security Initiatives in the region along with Border Liaison Offices, Interagency Mobile Teams, Border Outposts, CARICC, and others. In conclusion, she expressed UNODC`s strong and continuous commitment to further its close work with all CCP stakeholders on their priorities and needs in the region, as well as her gratitude to CCP donors for their continued and generous support to the Programme.

Mr. Ketil Ottersen, UNODC Senior Programme Coordinator in his welcoming remarks thanked the Government of Uzbekistan and the State Customs Committee for hosting the meeting and briefed that the CCP is implemented across five continents in 73 countries and its global outreach resulted in a series of notable successes against criminal networks in 2021. The launch and successful operation of the IREN Inter-Regional Group on Urgent Queries aimed at facilitation of speedy information exchange among participating countries and ACCUs/PCUs would be a step forward towards the IREN`s further operationalization, efficiency, and sustainability.

The host country representatives from National Information-Analytical Center on Drug Control under the Cabinet of Ministers and the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as donor representatives welcomed participants and reiterated their continuous commitment to be an active part of CCP initiatives and to support them. They also expressed confidence in further incremental successful steps towards achieving its goals and objectives. 

In the course of the meeting, participants reviewed the rationale, framework arrangements, as well as organizational set up of the IREN Inter-Regional Group on Urgent Queries. Furthermore, they studied recent smuggling cases and conducted the situation analysis in terms of modus operandi, driving factors and lucrativeness for smugglers. Additionally, they examined possible legislative gaps in transit countries, elaborated on the lessons learned with a focus on success factors for detection of illicit shipments and IREN’s facilitation role, and agreed on follow-up actions.

Based on the discussion of these aspects, participants adopted a set of expert meeting recommendations, including further development of operational activity framework for IREN Inter-Regional Group on Urgent Queries.

The CCP Regional Segment for Central Asia is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the Export Control and Related Border Security Program (EXBS).