Advancing Info Screening in the Maritime Sector

Advancing Info Screening in the Maritime Sector

24 May & 1 June 2022

One of the most effective ways to thwart transnational or transborder terrorist activity, including that of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), is information sharing. In fact, providing frontline border screeners and law enforcement officials with access to and use of information allows them to identify known or suspected terrorists—including FTFs, returnees, and relocators—and prevent their travel. This is best accomplished through the development, maintenance, and routine use of a national-level, consolidated terrorist watchlist for traveler screening. Several international framework documents require states to develop watchlists or databases and share information through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms. The GCTF New York Memorandum on Good Practices for Interdicting Terrorist Travel | Arabic | French (2019) established good practices for policymakers to consider while developing a watchlisting and screening enterprise. The subsequent Counterterrorism Watchlisting Toolkit helps countries put these good practices into practice by providing nineteen recommendations for practitioners and frontline officials to consider when establishing and implementing a counterterrorism watchlist process.

Advancing Information Screening in the Maritime Sector
Jordan and the United States, Co-Chairs of the GCTF Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF) Working Group, hosted the first in a series of workshops under the Watchlisting Guidance Manual Initiative aimed at enhancing international understanding and practical use of the recommendations in the Counterterrorism Watchlisting Toolkit. The T.M.C. Asser Institute acts as the implementing partner for this GCTF activity.

This first webinar combined elements of the Toolkit and the Addendum to the GCTF New York Memorandum on Good Practices for Interdicting Terrorist Travel Arabic | French (2021) by addressing effective practical use of a counterterrorism watchlisting toolkit in the maritime environment. This GCTF workshop brought together government officials as well as participants from international organizations, the private sector, and academia.

This workshop raised awareness about the crucial role of traveler screening in addressing the threat of terrorist activities in the maritime domain by exploring the various operational challenges unique to that environment. Participants had the opportunity to discuss good practices in travel security screening, and to examine how effective traveler screening in the maritime domain can prevent the embarkation of terrorists at seaports and interdict terrorist movements, including those of FTFs. Discussions also focused on tools to regulate and operationalize national counterterrorism watchlists for use by maritime security/law enforcement authorities consistent with international law and legal standards, on the crucial role of maritime carriers in collecting traveler data, public-private cooperation, and multilateral efforts to develop common approaches on effective traveler screening.  

Key Takeaways
During the virtual discussions, participants focused on the best practices and tools in place for the effective application of the provisions of the Toolkit and of the Addendum. Pertinent points raised include:

  • Promote the use of the Counterterrorism Watchlisting Toolkit and the Addendum at national and regional levels, with the ability to choose recommendations that are relevant to each country’s legal, security, and policy requirements.
  • Foster regional and national inter-agency cooperation and strengthen the exchange of information between agencies.
  • Share information and intelligence with associated international organizations to streamline analyses and make use of existing synergies.
  • Conduct systematic screening of individuals at selected border points against international/ national/regional databases.

Related GCTF resources: