SC: Securing borders against illicit flows

Last updated: 4/26/2012 // This statement on securing borders against illicit flows was delivered by Norway's UN Ambassador Morten Wetland on April 25th.


Organized groups and networks conduct ruthless illegal activities seeking the highest possible profit from smuggling narcotic drugs, arms, minerals, toxic waste, counterfeit products, and even human beings. These crimes undermine development ruin lives and threaten societies. It is timely that the Security Council discusses securing borders against such illicit flows.

We are also acutely aware of the devastating results of illicit trade in drugs, small arms and human beings in particular for countries in transition struggling to develop after conflict.

Many transnational criminals are moving between licit and illicit markets and they are taking advantage of safe havens and using corruption and violence as tools to reach their goals of maximum profit. The cocaine flow from Latin America, reaching West Africa and heading towards Europe is one example of this where criminals exploit porous borders and weak customs and police control.

The challenge is to crack down on such criminals without hampering or reducing legal trade. We must avoid that hunting criminals hurt all of us.  Because this is what happens if we  impose general rigid and time-consuming control at the borders for all goods and all people.  It is therefore of great importance than a border strategy include measures for detecting illicit flows before they enter concrete border areas. This will require close cooperation and international exchange of intelligence between law enforcement and customs agencies.

The Schengen cooperation of European countries is a tested example, where borders are generally open, but where controls and arrests can take place at other points along the route of transportation. This avoids choke-points and delays damaging to lawful trade and too productivity.

The Secretary General’s renewed priority of the issue of Transnational Organized Crime and the establishment of Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime are steps in the right direction. We expect that the Secretary General’s Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime will contribute significantly to strategic responses also in peacekeeping, peace-building, and development activities of the UN. It has the potential of helping member states to develop border management strategies, conducive to developing legal trade while strengthening their hand in dealing with illicit flows.

The strengthened focus on transnational organized crime in the report of the Secretary General – Delivering Justice: programme of action to strengthen the rule of law at the national and international levels – to be discussed at the high level meeting of the 67th session of the General Assembly is another step to highlight the need for effective law enforcement cooperation among countries.

Close cooperation with other UN units such as the Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) and Security Council working groups should strengthen the UN in supporting states. International cooperation at the regional level such as the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and supported by the UN and the international community may be models to build upon. The International Criminal Police Organization – Interpol – has a key role in helping the member states in meeting the threats from transnational organized crime. Their communications network 24/7 and databases of stolen passports and documents are core elements in border management. The World Customs Organization has high competence in measures related to border control and should be a strong partner for UN in building effective strategies.

To move forward we need stronger political commitments from governments in all regions. Law enforcement cooperation is important, but there must also be sufficient focus and investment to tackle organized crime and terrorism.

To conclude. Norway proposes that The Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force, The Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime, Interpol and the World Customs Organization come together with the aim to work out recommendations to improve measures to strengthen border management.

Thank you for your attention.

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