AMERICAS: US security chief calls for greater int’l co-operation

A greater level of international co-operation is needed to protect supply chains from “unpredictable” and “potentially catastrophic” threats, according to US Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, who also dismissed airport ‘black listing’and 100 per cent screening as ineffective in boosting air cargo security. Speaking at the European Policy Centre (EPC) in Brussels recently, Napolitano called […]


A greater level of international co-operation is needed to protect supply chains from “unpredictable” and “potentially catastrophic” threats, according to US Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, who also dismissed airport ‘black listing’and 100 per cent screening as ineffective in boosting air cargo security. Speaking at the European Policy Centre (EPC) in Brussels recently, Napolitano called on EU member states to help strengthen the security of the global supply chain as she announced a partnership with the World Customs Organisation (WCO) to lead an international effort to enlist other nations, international bodies, and the private sector. Napolitano said the US would focus on ‘capacity building’in the countries most vulnerable to the terrorist threat, such as Afghanistan or Yemen. She said that approach was preferable to setting up ‘black lists’of airports that cannot meet international security standards – an idea that EU ministers are considering. “Personally I don’t believe that a socalled black-list of non secure airports is the best way to go or a likely way to go. The minute you start establishing categories, the terrorists figure out a way around them,” Napolitano said. The US official suggested that freight companies could be asked to supply ‘advance information’ about the content of their cargo before taking off for the US – changing the current set up which requires them to report only at arrival. ‘We do not believe (that) 100-per-cent screening is the best way to have a secure trade system,’she added.”What in fact is a better way is a intelligence-risk based approach,’Napolitano said. “The global supply chain system is a powerful engine of commerce, of jobs, of prosperity. Yet a range of increasingly unpredictable and potentially catastrophic threats, from terrorist acts to natural disasters, present substantial danger to the entire system,” she told delegates, according to Reuters. “The reality is that securing the global supply chain is integral to securing both the lives of people around the world, and maintaining the stability of the global economy.” She said governments needed to make progress in three areas: Preventing terrorists from exploiting the supply chain to plan and execute attacks; protecting the most critical air, land and sea transport hubs; and bolstering the resiliency of the global supply chain so that if a terrorist attack or natural disaster does occur, it can recover quickly with minimal disruption. Napolitano said the US would work with EU countries, Interpol and the WCO to develop Homeland Security’s intelligence-sharing programme, Global Shield, which was launched with 60 nations last year to prevent the transport of chemicals used to make bombs.