Press Releases

    21 October 2004

    United Nations Launch Container Control Programme against Illicit Trafficking

    VIENNA, 21 October (UN Information Service) -- Seven million containers move around the globe daily, and are increasingly being used for trafficking of human beings, arms and drugs.  The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in partnership with the World Customs Organization (WCO), has launched a Container Control Programme to support port control measures in developing countries.

    Licit merchandise transported in containers generates legitimate revenue for hundreds of millions of people. However, containers also facilitate the trafficking of large quantities of heroin and cocaine. They often serve the trade in weapons, chemical waste and even human beings, and are used to ship money earned illicitly from organized crime. 

    “Container traffic has risen enormously over the past ten years, to 220 million units in 2000.  It is expected to double by 2012,” said Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of UNODC. “Visiting borders and ports in developing countries, one can notice a huge number of trucks and containers without the specialized controls needed to separate commercial trade from criminal activities.”

    The Container Control Programme will focus on port operations. It will bring together new port control teams (customs and police) and provide them with training and equipment to target illicit trafficking via maritime freight containers. Activities will start with the ports of Guayaquil (Ecuador) and Dakar (Senegal). Executive Director Costa will launch operations at the Guayaquil port today, together with Ecuadorian Government officials and donor representatives from France, Germany, Italy and Spain. 

    WCO Secretary General Michel Danet expressed his confidence saying “this new container control programme is timely. It complements ongoing bilateral work between individual countries, and provides the means for developing countries to effect new control measures within their ports and fulfil existing standards for the security of the supply chain.” 

    The total budget for the programme’s first phase covering Ecuador and Senegal is US$1.4 million. UNODC hopes to expand port control activities to Pakistan and Ghana as of 2005.

    For further information on the Container Control Programme, click on:

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