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Page Updated: 25-Sep-2006
SPS Homepage > News 2004

Strengthening cooperation against illicit trafficking

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A workshop designed to reinforce international counter-trafficking cooperation, took place in Norton Manor, UK from 10-12 September. The workshop provided a platform for high-level interactions between key government and non-governmental players involved in the fight against trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and related smuggling activities, The co-directors of this NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Illicit Trafficking: Detection, Deterrence and Interdiction came from Russia and the United Kingdom, and participation was from 20 NATO or Partner countries.

The workshop built on the efforts of the Working Group on Illicit Trafficking established at the 2002 International Approaches to Nuclear and Radiological Security Conference sponsored by the US Department of Energy, and co-hosted by the Russian Federation's Ministry of Atomic Energy and the Russian Research Center, the Kurchatov Institute.

At the conceptual level, the workshop underlined that 9/11 marked a revolution in the nature of conflict that has resulted in trafficking becoming a major facilitator of new security threats. The workshop also identified two related challenges to counter-trafficking efforts: (1) the internalisation of trafficking without crossing state boundaries in response to increased scrutiny at the border; and (2) legal transfers of radiological material pose a major security threat but remain largely unregulated.

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At the public diplomacy level, the workshop helped to enhance counter-trafficking cooperation between key NATO and Partner countries, including Bulgaria, Poland, USA, the Republic of Georgia, and the Russian Federation, as well as key international organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN Centre for International Crime Prevention, the European Commission and Europol. Several new bilateral dialogues and informal agreements on counter-trafficking issues took shape during the workshop.

The workshop participants also made a number of recommendations, including:

  • Establishment of a NATO Advisory Group on Illicit Trafficking to provide NATO with an enhanced counter trafficking support capability.
  • Follow on NATO Workshop on Counter Trafficking in support of IAEA Division of Radiation and Waste Safety prior to IAEA meetings in Bordeaux 2005.
  • Establishment of an International Nuclear and Radiological Security Training Institute -- using NATO member and partner capabilities including Kurchatov Institute’s first-hand experience of nuclear and radiological crises.
  • Adapt the US counter-narcotics Joint Interagency Task-Force (JIATF) concept for wider counter-trafficking/ counter-terrorism objectives.
  • Establishment of a Black Sea/Caucasus Regional Counter-Trafficking Intel Center.
  • Include industry in counter-trafficking planning and training packages.
  • The media have become the medium -- information preparedness and crisis communication is now a precondition for effective security response
  • Follow on activity on information preparedness.
  • Use NATO Workshop Publication as a follow-up tool.
  • The workshop organizers will maintain close communication with the members of the working group, facilitating sharing of information among participants and follow-up with regard to action items.

    The co-directors of the Counter-Trafficking workshop were John Wood, Chairman of the Trilateral Group and the Institute for Applied Science, London, United Kingdom, and Dr. Evgeny Velikhov, President of the Kurchatov Institute, and Co-founder Institute for Applied Science, Moscow, Russia. Further background information may be found at http://www.iapscience.com/NATOtrafficking1.php. The workshop proceedings will be published by Kluwer Academic Publishers in a volume of the NATO Science Series early next year.

    Note: The views expressed and observations and recommendations made at this workshop reflect those of the participants in the workshop only. They should not be regarded as reflecting NATO views or policy or those of member governments.