ICAO and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism
The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) was established on 15 June 2017 through the adoption of UN General Assembly Resolution 71/291. The aim was to transfer relevant functions out of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (DPA), including the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT), to the new United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism. Mr. Vladimir Voronkov was appointed as its first Under-Secretary-General.
It is to be noted that, prior to the establishment of the UNOCT and following UN General Assembly Resolution 60/288 of 8 September 2006, the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was launched. This unique global instrument enhances national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. Through its adoption by consensus in 2006, all UN Member States agreed the first time to a common strategic and operational approach to fighting terrorism. The Strategy does not only send a clear message that terrorism is unacceptable in all its forms and manifestations but it also resolves to take practical steps, individually and collectively, to prevent and combat terrorism. Those practical steps include a wide array of measures ranging from strengthening state capacity to counter terrorist threats to better coordinating UN System’s counter-terrorism activities.
The UN General Assembly establishes the priorities of UNOCT through the resolutions of the biennial Review of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The Office works closely with UN Member States, UN entities, civil society, international and regional organizations, academia and other stakeholders strengthening existing and developing new partnerships to effectively prevent and counter terrorism.
The UNOCT works with Member States to:
1. address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism;
2. prevent and combat terrorism;
3. building Member States’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in this regard; and
4. ensuring the respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis for countering terrorism.
The UN Countering Terrorist Travel Programme (CT Travel Programme), a flagship global initiative of the UNOCT, assists Member States in building their capabilities to detect and counter terrorists and serious criminals. This is achieved by collecting and using Advance Passenger Information (API), and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to improve the use of international databases, such as INTERPOL databases, with data relating to known and suspected terrorist and criminals, and enhance information exchange.
ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu joined UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) Under-Secretary-General Mr. Vladimir Voronkov in formalizing an important new Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on 31 August 2020, aimed at building member state capacity to prevent, detect and investigate terrorist offenses and other serious crimes through the collection and analyzing of Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. The new programme importantly follows an ‘All-of-UN’ approach, jointly led by UNOCT and implemented in partnership with ICAO, the Counter Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Office of Information and Communication Technology (OICT), and INTERPOL. The new UNOCT-ICAO agreement comes into effect upon its signing, and will guide the related programme efforts through August 2022. The ICAO Council adopted the related Amendment to Annex 9 (Facilitation) of the Chicago Convention at its 220th Session held from 4 to 22 May 2020; it became effective in October 2020 and applicable in February 2021.
On 12 February 2022, ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar signed a new cooperative agreement with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office (UNOCT) to further advance joint counter-terrorism cooperation to strengthen the security of international air transport, trade, and border management. Formalized with UNOCT Under-Secretary-General, Mr. Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov, the agreement builds on ICAO’s key role in supporting the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (Resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 30 June 2021 A/RES/75/291) and numerous Security Council resolutions on counter-terrorism, aviation security, and facilitation (identity and border control management). It is additionally expected to maximize related deliverables to Member States in a variety of areas of ICAO/UNOCT focus, including initiatives pertaining to unmanned aircraft systems (drones) and cybersecurity.