Transport facilitation is a part of trade facilitation and may be defined as the simplification and harmonization of international transport procedures and the information flows associated with them.
Its objective is to increase efficiency by performing complex operations as rationally as possible while keeping a delicate balance between the requirements of the transport industry and the national economy, on the one hand, and the necessity to conform with indispensable governmental regulations relating to national health and security, customs duties and taxes, etc., on the other.
Due to the early identification of needs for transport facilitation in Europe, UNECE has become a focal point for regulatory and technical intergovernmental development in the transport facilitation for inland transport modes. In particular, UNECE has developed and administers many international legal instruments in this area, including the TIR Convention (1975) and Harmonization Convention (1982). A full list of the relevant UNECE conventions can be found here. Many of them have become truly global.
Facilitation and security should be considered as complimentary, rather than contradictory, to one another. However, the balance between the two was seriously shaken by the events of 11 September 2001 in New York and other terrorist attacks in various cities across the globe. These events demonstrated that transport and related infrastructure are vulnerable to security threats.
Since 2001, a significant number of initiatives have been launched by various intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to address security challenges while keeping the benefits of facilitation. From the prospective of international transport and global supply chains, the major development was the adoption in 2005 of The Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade (SAFE) by the World Customs Organization (WCO).
UNECE and its Inland Transport Committee (ITC) have given careful consideration to transport security. This work was first conducted in the framework of various Working Parties which addressed the underlying issues within their field of competence. In addition, to ensure a comprehensive intersectoral approach to this topic, ITC established a Multidisciplinary Group of Experts on Inland Transport Security.
The Expert Group, with the participation of experts from UNECE Member States as well as relevant international governmental and non-governmental organizations, has addressed the following areas of work: (i) transport safety and transport security; (ii) inventory of regulatory initiatives at the national level; (iii) inventory of regulatory initiatives at the international level; (iv) inventory of standards, initiatives, guidelines, best practices by the private sector. The proceedings of the Expert Group can be found on here.
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