Panama City, Panama, 30 June 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to express my sincere thanks to the Government of Panama for organising this event and for my visits to the Joint Port Unit and the search exercise in the Port of Panama .
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We live in a world built by international trade. To support our appetite for products and resources, millions of maritime containers are moved yearly. These containers convey our needs, but they also deliver undesired goods reflecting the dark side of globalization.
Criminals use maritime containers to smuggle a range of illicit goods, including: drugs and precursor chemicals, weapons, endangered species, cultural artifacts, hazardous materials and fraudulent goods.
Until recently, the sheer volume of maritime container traffic has made interception difficult. Out of about 500 million maritime containers, shipped yearly, less than 2 per cent are inspected.
To counter this security gap, UNODC and the World Customs Organization created the global Container Control Programme. It operates in ports in 11 countries in West Africa, Latin America, and West and Central Asia. Each site is located in major drug producing regions, as well as established shipping routes for illicit drugs and precursor chemicals.
The programme replaced a random approach with a rigorous risk assessment identifying suspicious containers. It also establishes Joint Port Control Units and integrates several branches of law enforcement .
At the local level, the Government of Panama is working to halt trafficking. I applaud their actions. UNODC works closely with Panama Customs implementing the global programme and the formation of the Joint Port Control Units in Port Balboa and Manzanillo.
In Panama, we have achieved concrete results. Since October 2009, the control units have seized more than 115 containers carrying fraudulent goods. In total, about 1 ton of cocaine has been seized.
This amount comes from the work of Panamanian operational units created by the programme, local operations, and where units have issued international alerts leading to major seizures in other countries such as Spain.
Building on the Panamanian experience, UNODC expanded its operations to Costa Rica and Guatemala last year, while an expansion to Jamaica is planned for this year.
CCP will also be expanded to Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Kazakhstan.
Major funding for CCP comes from Canada the biggest funder for Latin America and the Caribbean in general, and Panama in particular. France, Germany, the European Union and other Member States have also provided funding. The United States and the UK have provided equipment and support. I appreciate the work of these countries and organsiations; together, they are helping to develop a global network based on detailed risk assessment.
I am also glad this process is being adopted elsewhere. To strengthen land and air borders, especially regarding courier packages, joint units have been established in key airports . We need to ensure that this parallel system grows.
UNODC stands ready to offer its expertise.
Ladies and Gentleman,
Finally, commending policies, we should never forget about hard working individuals who make our policies a reality. I am, therefore, pleased to award this certificate of appreciation for outstanding contribution in the field of law enforcement to Mrs Gloria Moreno De López, Director of Customs. The award is a tremendous credit to both you and your team.