The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme



The mission of the Container Control Programme (CCP) is to build capacity in countries seeking to improve risk management, supply chain security and trade facilitation in seaports, airports and land border crossings in order to prevent the crossborder movement of illicit goods.


As the global economy becomes increasingly interconnected, opportunities for trade have spread around the world. Shipping lanes are the superhighways of international commerce; more than 750 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) are transported by sea every year, accounting for 90 percent of the global cargo trade. However, this presents opportunities not only for governments and legitimate businesses, but also for terrorists and transnational organized crime groups to transport anything from legal goods used for money laundering, to prohibited drugs and even materials for weapons of mass destruction. These actors benefit from the sheer volume of global trade because this makes effective monitoring extremely difficult; less than two percent of shipping containers are ever screened. Moreover, the rise of Darknet technologies has enabled any individual to access crypto-markets which exploit standard postal and commercial shipping services. Finally, the challenge is made even greater by the proliferation of sophisticated concealment measures, corruption, limited resources, complex and diverse port processes and systems and a lack of trust and coordination between state agencies and actors in the private sector. Thus, this situation poses grave dangers to international security and to the international trade supply chain which is vital for sustainable development.

"If the enemies of progress and human rights seek to exploit the openness and opportunities of globalization for their purposes, then we must exploit those very same factors to defend human rights, and defeat the forces of crime, corruption, and trafficking in human beings."
- Kofi Annan, Address at the Opening of the Signing Conference for the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, Palermo, 12 December 2000.

The UNODC response to this situation, developed in collaboration with the World Customs Organization (WCO), is the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme. Faced with such a complex and globalized problem, the CCP embraces a nuanced, holistic and multi-sectoral approach by providing continuous monitoring and oversight, offering a plethora of context-specific training programmes and strengthening cooperation between state agencies and with the private sector. The mission of the CCP is to build capacity in Member States seeking to improve risk management, supply chain security and trade facilitation in seaports, airports and land border crossings in order to prevent the cross-border movement of illicit goods.

At present, the CCP is operational in over 50 Member States. More than 85 Port Control Units (PCUs) and Air Cargo Control Units (ACCUs) have been established since the CCP's inception in 2004. These inter-agency units are equipped to exchange information with their counterparts in other countries using a secure communication application, developed by the WCO, called ContainerComm. This provides PCUs and ACCUs access to a wealth of information, allowing users to track, profile and identify high risk containers, verify their identification numbers and send out alerts to other PCUs and ACCUs.

These efforts have resulted in seizures of a wide range of prohibited goods, such as weapons and ammunition, proceeds of fisheries, forest, wildlife and other environmental crime, prohibited drugs, strategic goods, falsified or unlicensed medicines, precursors for drugs and explosives, cigarettes, alcohol, stolen vehicles and goods which are counterfeit or otherwise violate intellectual property law. The CCP remains ideally placed to support the strengthening of international supply chain security by building national border administrations' capacities to tackle threats related to sea, land and air cargo.


The CCP Women's Network

Established in 2015, the CCP Women's Network aims to actively promote women's roles in the Programme and foster an inclusive dialogue around female participation, leadership, empowerment and freedom from discrimination in a sector often dominated by men. The CCP Women's Network encourages measures such as gender-sensitized recruitment criteria, flexible working hours, an inter-PCU support network and a training module on gender as a mandatory part of the core training. Members of the network can share information and discuss ideas via a Whatsapp messaging platform. In addition, the Women's Network Newsletter keeps PCU and ACCU officers, donors, private sector partners, civil society and other relevant stakeholders regularly updated on issues and recent developments regarding gender, workplace equality and professionalism. Finally, the CCP regularly evaluates the gender balance in all offices, PCUs, ACCUs and training events to assess the impact of interventions. For more information, sign up to the Women's Network Newsletter:


Women's Network Newsletter July 2019

Women's Network Newsletter March 2019

Women's Network Newsletter November 2018

Women's Network Newsletter August 2018

Women's Network Newsletter March 2018

Women's Network Newsletter November 2017 



Overview of Activities

• Establish and train Port Control Units (PCUs) and Air Cargo Control Units (ACCUs) comprised of customs, national police, anti-narcotics forces and other law enforcement agencies to identify and inspect high-risk shipments with minimum disruption to legitimate trade.
• Conduct technical needs assessments of selected seaports, airports and land border crossings in order to evaluate the current situation and offer recommendations for future activities, including needs for technical equipment and training.
• Design and delivery of core training, work study tours, exchange visits within the region, advanced specialized training and mentor services.
• Organize regional meetings and conferences to build capacity and promote an internationally coordinated and cooperative response to crime in the containerised supply chain.
• Encourage PCUs and ACCUs to forge partnerships and links with each other and with the private sector.
• Promote closer cooperation and the development of effective mechanisms to share information and intelligence between law enforcement agencies around the world.
• Promote women in PCUs and ACCUs to augment their role and influence in these units and in the wider law enforcement community.
• Maintain a global network of seaports, airports and land border crossings to effectively combat crossborder illicit trade.



The CCP delivers a core curriculum of theoretical, practical and advanced specialized training followed up by regular mentoring delivered by the Programme's own team of experts. The first two phases of the structured training programme are typically provided to PCU and ACCU officers within six to nine months of the establishment of the unit. The first phase is the theoretical training, during which officers are introduced to risk analysis, profiling and targeting techniques. Knowledge gained in the theoretical training is then operationalized in the practical training, which includes the application of profiling and inspection techniques in a professional environment. Following the first two phases of formal training, PCU and ACCU officers conduct work study tours in order to observe best practice techniques and methods at benchmarking ports. To complement the core training, the Programme has maintained the development and delivery of advanced specialized training programmes which are then delivered according to the country risk assessments and the availability of funds. These programmes deal with a range of topics, including:

The CCP is committed to improving Member States capacity to achieve environmental justice and conservation goals, in line with Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Sustainable Development Goals. As such, the Programme is a key actor in the fight against wildlife trafficking - for example, one recent search executed by the PCU in Vietnam discovered 528 kg of pangolin scales, 129 lion teeth, 93 animal claws, three leopard skins and assorted timber. The Programme also delivers advanced specialized training on timber trafficking, a constantly expanding and increasingly globalized illegal market which threatens endangered species, biodiversity, indigenous peoples' livelihoods and the global climate. Thus, this issue demands a highly trained and internationally coordinated response.

Fisheries Crime
In 2017, CCP launched a specialized training programme focusing on fisheries crime. Fisheries crime covers a range of illegal activities which are often transnational and organized in nature. These activities include illegal shipments of marine resources, illegal fishing, corruption, money laundering and document and tax fraud. By bringing together PCUs, fisheries departments and other relevant actors, the Programme promotes a holistic approach to counter this form of crime.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
Intellectual Property Right violations, such as the trade in counterfeit goods, are detrimental to legitimate business interests and national economies. However, this is a complex field encompassing a nexus of law, law enforcement and business. The CCP provides the coordination and expert training required to deal with these issues.

Cultural Property
Trafficking in cultural property has been identified as a source of financing for transnational organized crime groups and terrorist organizations, including ISIS. The CCP's systematic approach to detection and seizures is integral to the international effort to combat this crime.

The Use of Technical Equipment
Training in the use of technical equipment has long been a staple of the CCP. This includes training on the use of HAzMatID 360, a chemical identification system capable of identifying explosives, homemade precursors, WMDs and toxic industrial chemicals, and on the use of drug testing equipment.

Strategic Trade and Export Control (STEC)
STEC training deals with goods which are subject to licensing or authorization, namely weapons of mass destruction, dual-use goods and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials.

Drugs and Precursors
The CCP offers advanced specialized training to enhance the capacity of law enforcement authorities to detect and identify narcotic drugs and precursors which are used to make drugs or explosives.

Illicit Timber
Trafficking in illicit timber threatens biodiversity, the habitats of endangered species, the climate and is often linked to transnational organized crime and terrorism. Thus, it is vital to ensure that law enforcement authorities can identify illicit timber and understand the nuances of this enormously profitable illicit industry.

Air Cargo and Mail Security
Air Cargo and Mail Security is paramount to ensuring supply chain security in the modern era. On commercial flights, air cargo is often stowed in the cargo holds while passengers sit in the main cabin directly above. Thus, CCP Air also contributes to terrorism prevention and passenger safety by enhancing cargo screening procedures.

Explosives and Arms
The CCP plays an important role in enhancing the capacity of law enforcement authorities who are often the main line of defence against actors seeking to sell or use explosives, as well as small arms and light weapons (SALW). For example, in one seizure in 2018, the PCU in Kampala, Uganda, discovered explosives and detonators hidden on a bus. The PCU in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, also had several impressive seizures in 2018, including one of 237 semi-automatic weapons, and one of 20 tons of ammonium nitrate (used to manufacture IEDs).

Evidence Handling
The CCP offers advanced specialized training on evidence handling, a key step in the law enforcement process which must be done safely and correctly, consistent with forensic procedures in order to preserve evidence for legal proceedings.


The Programme's capacity-building outcomes must be the sustainable growth of both the Programme's officers and the results they deliver. The CCP ensures that law enforcement officials are well trained in the use of state-of-the-art technologies and techniques, and that they remain up to date with the latest concealment methods and other tactics used by transnational organized crime groups.



The immediate beneficiaries are relevant law enforcement agencies, whose staff will be better structured, trained and equipped to more effectively target high risk shipping containers. The endeavours of the CCP also facilitate post seizure investigations and prosecutions. In addition, these measures will also directly benefit legitimate trade by enhancing supply chain security and improving efficiency through the minimization of unnecessary checks on low-risk containers. The CCP continues to prioritize the continued development of private sector partnerships. Cooperation between the private and public sectors brings with it improved competitive advantage, cost savings and reductions in operational risks for businesses.

United Nations Instruments, Resolutions and the Sustainable Development Goals 

The CCP is ideally suited to supporting countries and regions regarding the implementation of United Nations instruments, resolutions and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Container Control Programme strives to facilitate the implementation of all United Nations Security Council resolutions related to the Programme's activities. The CCP has evolved over time and expanded into new thematic areas in line with various UN Security Council resolutions regarding emerging threats, including trafficking in cultural property (UNSCR 2199, 2322, 2347), CBRN materials, weapons and their means of delivery (UNSCR 1540), small arms and light weapons (UNSCR 2220), as well as the exploitation of the air cargo supply chain (UNSCR 2309) and the situation in Afghanistan (UNSCR 1267 and 1988).


SDG 5: Gender Equality
The CCP is highly conscious of gender equality issues and strives to enhance female participation and leadership in its training programmes, PCUs and ACCUs.

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
The work of the CCP not only combats the trafficking of illicit goods, it also promotes trade facilitation, enhances supply chain security, streamlines customs and other law enforcement processes and minimizes unnecessary searches by enhancing the capacity to detect and assess risk.

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
The CCP promotes innovation, not only in technologies such as electronic targeting tools, but also in the tactics and methods that comprise the CCP training programmes.

SDG 14: Life Below Water
The CCP FishNET programme has a significant role in protecting endangered marine species from overfishing and preserving fragile marine ecosystems. In addition, the CCP strives to combat the trafficking of illegal wildlife goods such as shark fins and seahorses.

SDG 15: Life on Land
The CCP efforts against the trafficking of illegal timber, illicit wildlife goods, and harmful chemicals and waste all contribute to endeavours to protect biodiversity, endangered species, and the habitats in which they live.

SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions 
SDG 16 goes to the heart of the purpose of the CCP: to enhance Member States' customs and other law enforcement institutions in order to promote peace and justice.

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals
SDG 17 is intrinsic to the CCP's approach to the global illicit market. As criminals take advantage of our increasingly interconnected and globalized world, the CCP has adapted to this challenge. The global programme coordinates PCUs and ACCUs around the world and prioritises making and strengthening partnerships between law customs and other enforcement agencies, Member States and with the private sector.



Annual Report 2018

Annual Report 2017

Annual Report 2016

Annual Report 2015

Annual Report 2014

Annual Report 2013


Donors and Partners

These results would have been impossible without support from the following donors: Australia, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The CCP's training activities also benefit from in-kind contributions such as the hosting of study tours and the provision of experts from national law enforcement and customs administrations including those of Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda and the United Kingdom.

The CCP has partnered with many organizations in order to provide specialized expertise to CCP trainings. These include the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Interpol, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the North Atlantic Fisheries Intelligence Group (NAFIG), the RHIPTO Norwegian Centre for Global Analyses, the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In addition, the CCP also benefits from numerous partnerships with private sector actors to promote cooperation, ensure supply chain security and minimize unnecessary infringements on legitimate trade.



Follow us on Twitter @UNODC_WCO_CCP