Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need for effective strategies to help States monitor, control and secure their borders against the illicit flows of materials and goods, as well as people, highlighting how the United Nations is playing a crucial role in this area.
“Preventing illicit flows is beneficial to countries, communities and individuals. It is important for security, development and human rights,” Mr. Ban told the Security Council as it met to discuss improving UN capacity to assist States to counter illicit flows.
He noted that, across the globe, insecure borders enable the trafficking of drugs, weapons, contraband, terrorist funding, materials related to weapons of mass destruction, conflict minerals, wildlife and people.
“Such illicit flows undermine state sovereignty. They destroy communities and individual lives. They are threats to peace and security and are rightly the focus of this Council’s close attention,” he told the meeting, convened at the initiative of the United States, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for this month.
“Countering them means action on many fronts,” said Mr. Ban. “Strengthening border security is crucial.”
Member States are obliged under international law to secure their borders against illicit flows, he noted. However, “fragile and vulnerable” countries – some of them devastated by war, others struggling to transform themselves – often lack the capacity to overcome the conditions that allow these crimes to flourish.
“The United Nations is thus hard at work helping many States to build that capacity,” he stated. In Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Project AIRCOP is designed to strengthen controls at international airports. The sea equivalent is the Global Container Control Programme.
Mr. Ban said that border strengthening is effective, but not if done in isolation.
“We also need to give priority to establishing public institutions that deliver a sustained level of security and justice for citizens,” he noted. “Border security can never come at the expense of migrants’ rights. Nor can it be used to legitimize inhumane treatment.”
The Secretary-General also highlighted the need for regional cooperation to address both illicit flows and human trafficking, as well as ratifying and implementing relevant legal tools such as the UN treaties dealing with transnational organized crime and with corruption. Counter-terrorism strategies are also crucial since illicit flows are directly linked to terrorism, he added.
“There are no quick solutions to illicit flows. There is only a sustained process that requires the commitment of all,” Mr. Ban said. “Our watchtowers must be accompanied by watchwords: information, intelligence, data collection and analysis.
“This is an area where the United Nations, with its ability to provide objective and balanced information, can play a key role, he added.”
The Council, in a presidential statement, called on all Member States to improve border management to “effectively constrain the spread of transnational threats.”
It also acknowledged the importance of adopting a comprehensive and balanced approach, as necessary, to tackle the conditions conducive to facilitating illicit cross-border trafficking and movement, including demand and supply factors, and underlined the importance of international cooperation in this regard.