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A Resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) highlights the international policing body Interpol’s global role in providing capacity-building and technical assistance to protect critical infrastructure from terrorists.
UNSC Resolution 2341 (2017), endorsed by the 15-member council after recent terror attacks on critical infrastructure – including airports in Brussels and Istanbul – stresses collaboration, domestically and across borders.
It highlights a need for exchange of operational information, including on the actions and movements of terrorists, with governments, law enforcement, foreign partners and the private sector.
International counter-terrorism cooperation – especially in the area of critical infrastructure – has been limited, Maria Luiza Viotti, Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General António Guterres, admitted. She called on the international community to unite in a coordinated response.
“Strategically, this means that the international community needs to unite and be more creative, proactive and effective, including through the development of strong public-private partnerships,” she said, delivering the UN chief’s message to the forum.
“As our world becomes increasingly interconnected – through travel, commerce, communications and in cyber space, we become more vulnerable to attacks by technologically savvy terrorists seeking new ways to spread fear.”
Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said the interdependence of infrastructure across sectors and industries, between cyber and physical areas, and across national boundaries, means that the consequences of an attack could be far-reaching.
He said: “One attack on a single point of failure could disrupt or destroy multiple vital systems in the country directly affected, causing a ripple effect worldwide. This creates an appealing target to those intending to harm us. As our cities and infrastructure evolve, so do the weapons of terrorists.
“Conflict zone tactics – such as simultaneous active shooter events, armoured vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices or portable Unmanned Aerial Systems with explosive payloads – can be honed for use in our city streets and against key facilities.
“Law enforcement is keenly aware of a tragic paradox: a terrorist incident is often among the best opportunity for learning and improving. Sharing these lessons across borders means reaping the benefits, without paying that cost. It’s a win-win scenario.”
Interpol efforts to promote intelligence sharing, capacity building and resilience include strengthening critical site security with emergency preparedness standards and procedures. For instance, Interpol’s Vulnerable Targets unit works with member countries in West Africa on the physical security of laboratories hosting dangerous pathogens.
Other speakers in the debate included Hamid Ali Rao, Deputy Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); Chris Trelawny, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on Maritime Security and Facilitation; Olli Heinonen, Senior Advisor on Science and Non-proliferation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former Deputy Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).