Border security priorities for 2022: API and PNR data in anti-terrorism cooperation
Border security priorities for 2022
Border risk priorities differ for each country and each operation is based on risk analysis before being tailored to the circumstances identifed by law enforcement agencies. The scope of threats can range from terrorists in possession of weapons of mass destruction, transnational criminals smuggling drugs or counterfeit goods, to unauthorized migrants intending to enter the country.
A top priority shared by all law enforcement agencies is to stop terrorists and their weapons reaching borders while also enabling the legitimate travelling of passengers and vehicles. The border activities undertaken to thwart potential threats will differ between various types of borders – air, land, sea, and railway. Effective border management and security presents unique challenges at the air borders, because the volume of arrivals and departures, plus the frequency of flights, make it hard to detect risky passengers in time.
Passenger numbers steadily increasing
ICAO reports that as seat capacity fell by 50% in 2020, passenger totals dropped by 60% with just 1.8 billion passengers taking to the air, compared to 4.5 billion in 2019. Passenger traffic is expected to recover to 86% of 2019 levels by December 2022 – 73% international and 95% domestic – and we’re witnessing the return of many large-scale events and conferences. 4.3 billion passengers were carried by air transport on scheduled services in 2018, a 6.1% increase over 2017. If the global volume of air passengers continues to grow between 5-7% every year, it could reach 7.2 billion by 2036. (European Commission, 2020).
Dramatic growth in passenger numbers and increasing terrorism and transnational crime makes it difficult to ignore the threats to the airline industry and its passengers. This has greatly increased the workload of border agencies and requires certain proactive measures aimed at speeding up border controls. Add to this, the need to combat irregular immigration and ensure internal security, such as processing Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Records (PNR).
Counter terrorism coordination between UN Member States
UN member States must ensure that any counter terrorism activities uphold obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law. Additionally, foreign terrorist fighters increase the intensity, duration and intractability of conflicts, and also may pose a serious threat to their States of origin, the States they transit and the States to which they travel. UN Member States must require that airlines operating in their territories provide advance passenger information (API) to the appropriate national authorities in order to detect the departure, attempted entry into or transit through their territories and report these attempts.
The UN also calls upon Member States to prevent the movement of terrorists by controlling how identity papers and travel documents are issued, preventing counterfeiting, forgery, or fraudulent use. They have further emphasized the ICAO’s call to establish more robust API systems, requiring airlines to provide API to the appropriate national authorities. Member States should also share PNR data with relevant or concerned Member States to detect foreign terrorist fighters returning to their countries of origin or nationality or travelling or relocating to a third country. The ICAO has been urged to work to quickly establish a standard for the collection, use, processing, and protection of PNR data.
In our next post, we’ll look at the main challenges for border security experts as they navigate API and PNR data handling within different jurisdictions with unique requirements.
Article by: Rovshan Namazov