• English

Inland Transport Security Discussion Forum

28 January 2010, Salle XII Palais des Nations, Geneva
UNECE Transport Division
Opening remarks by Mr. Ján Kubiš
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to open the Inland Transport Security Discussion Forum.  On behalf of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, I would like to welcome representatives of national governments, international organizations, the private sector and academia, all our distinguished speakers. 

Inland transport faces many types of security risks. Mishandling or theft of dangerous substances during transport; illegal border crossing of persons and goods; increasing attacks on truck drivers; attacks on critical transport infrastructure such as tunnels and bridges, vehicle theft and subsequent use as car-bombs are only a few examples. 

Transport systems – notably open and accessible transport systems - are in particular vulnerable and the terrorist attacks in New York City, Bali, Istanbul, Madrid, Moscow, London and Glasgow have proven it.

The UNECE’s approach to inland security has - as always - relied on close co-operation with national authorities in the relevant areas such as transport, intelligence, security, customs and border services. Our objective is also clear: to improve the security of transport systems by reducing the likelihood of transport being a target or used as a vehicle for terrorism. The way we go about that is by developing or modifying legal instruments administered here and by making the UNECE platform available to national authorities to exchange information and co-ordinate actions. The UNECE Transport Division administers 57 international legal instruments in the area of inland transport.   

Following the terrorist attack on the twin towers in New York City, the UNECE Transport Division was mandated to review its own work in order to identify whether and where new security provisions would be applicable or needed.  All areas were carefully analyzed including the transport of dangerous goods, vehicle regulations, infrastructure agreements and border crossings and a number of recommendations identified during the review have been incorporated into the texts of legal instruments.  

In 2006, the UNECE Transport Division organized a successful Round Table on Transport and Security in the Pan-European Context.

Upon recommendation of the UNECE Inland Transport Committee a Multidisciplinary Group of Experts on Inland Transport Security was established.  The Expert Group submitted a report containing an inventory of regulatory initiatives.  It also proposed recommendations for further action at the ITC’s subsidiary body level.  The key recommendation was for the UNECE transport bodies to work towards  introducing security provisions in the relevant international legal instruments.

A task force on rail security was also established. It will report  at this meeting on the progress it is making in dialogue with the G8 Working Group on Inland Transport Security, with the OSCE on road and rail security in the OSCE area and on its security dialogue with the European Commission.

Finally, in 2009, a transport security seminar entitled “The way ahead: Prevention and resilience?” was organized

Regardless the increased awareness and efforts, inland transport continues to be the weakest link in the supply chain and, relative to other modes of transport,  inland transport security has not received the attention it deserves.  Relative to ports and airports, inland transport appeared to be under-protected.  No international entity exists for inland transport security. Integrated approach to inland transport security is lacking.  Risk assessment techniques are not well-known or are underutilized. There remain questions related to the division of responsibilities between the public and private sectors. We think something should be done about that and it is therefore very satisfying to see so much interest here today.

The UNECE stands ready to do its share to promote international co-operation in enhancing inland transport security, to raise awareness and to encourage the effective implementation of existing security agreements.  The UNECE is also available as a forum for exchange of information and good practices, as witnessed by today’s forum.

In closing, I would like to use this occasion to thank the government of Belgium Service Public Federal Mobilite et Transports for its continued interest in promoting the inland transport security work at the UNECE

In addition, UNECE’s private sector partners in today’s endeavor: the International Road Transport Union (IRU), International Union of Railways (UIC) and Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) need to be singled out as the key substantive partners.

I thank you all and I wish you every success today and tomorrow.