Published On: Thu, May 9th, 2019

UN Launches Innovative Program to Counter Terrorist Travel

UNITED NATIONS (TURKISH JOURNAL) – By Janet Ekstract – International peace and security are at the forefront of an innovative new system that the United Nations stated is designed to assist countries in enhancing detection of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and serious criminals.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced earlier this week that the new initiative known as the U.N. Countering Terrorist Travel program uses a new “goTravel” software system to collect, process and share passenger information with national and international authorities.

The U.N. chief who spoke at the program launch, reminded everyone that the most recent attacks, those in Kenya, New Zealand and Sri Lanka are “tragic reminders of the global reach of the scourge of terrorism.”

The launch, which took place at U.N. Headquarters in New York, is particularly crucial since the defeat of the Iraq and Syria-based ISIL terrorist group. This is because thousands of FTFs are making a bid to return home or relocate to conflict zones or ‘safe havens,” which signifies a major threat to international peace and security, the secretary-general emphasized.

This program is seen as a “flagship initiative” by the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOCT) that operates by identifying and analyzing FTF passenger data.

Meanwhile, several U.N. counter-terrorism departments and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are planning to work in tandem to implement this initiative. By using this program, countries will have free access to advanced “goTravel” software to analyze travel data to assist in thwarting terrorist movements by detecting and disrupting their activities.

.In addition, the U.N. plans on supporting national authorities in developing new legislation and national expertise via training and certification to operate the software in a lawful and highly efficient manner. The secretary-general emphasized that this program will help states to collect, process and share travel data with other competent national and international authorities with full respect for privacy and other fundamental freedoms.

The concept of combining advanced technology with legislation is key in the 21st century as FTFs become tougher to detect. The U.N. secretary-general highlighted the “dramatic movement” of terrorists to and from conflict zones worldwide over the last seven years.

Mr. Guterres stated that an estimated 40,000 FTFs from 110 countries may have traveled to join terror groups in Syria and Iraq.

It’s a matter of balancing surveillance with data and human rights protection, according to Jelle Postma, chief of the Countering Terrorist Travel and Aviation Security Section in the U.N. Counter-Terrorism sector. Postma explained that the technology contains safeguard mechanisms built-in to protect data and human rights. Eventually, Postma said that sensitive data will be deleted by the system.

Postma added that the U.N. will work with national parliaments to ensure that new surveillance laws include independent and transparent oversight mechanisms.

The new U.N. Countering Terrorist Travel program is currently being funded by India, Japan, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

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