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Air cargo security regulations need harmonization.

Civil aviation is estimated to grow by 6 percent this year, 6.4 percent in 2014 and 4.9 percent on an annual basis until 2020, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization at its 2012 aviation security conference. At the same time, ICAO cautioned that this growth may not halt the threat of unlawful interference with civil aviation--and that the threat will evolve into a web of activity as new methods of attack spring up.

ICAO endorses calling for the strengthening of security screening procedures, enhancement of human factors and utilization of modern technologies to detect prohibited articles and support of research and development of technology for the detection of explosives, weapons and prohibited articles in order to prevent acts of unlawful interference.

In November 2012, the ICAO Council adopted Amendment 13. This amendment defines transfer cargo mail as cargo and mail departing on an aircraft other than that on which it arrived, and goes on to define high risk cargo or mail as cargo or mail presented by an unknown entity or showing signs of tampering and gives three criteria for their detection. The amendment prescribes measures relating to access control through screening of people other than passengers as well as cargo, mail and other goods. It also addresses insider threats by requiring that enhanced security measures apply to high-risk cargo and mail to appropriately mitigate threats.

On the subject of transfer cargo or mail from a freighter to a passenger airline, the amendment prescribes screening at the point of transfer to be confirmed by a regulated agent, and goes on to say that such cargo or mail accepted for carriage is issued with a security status which will accompany, either in electronic form or in writing, the cargo or mail throughout the security supply chain.

It's clear that the glue that binds the requirements discussed above is law and practice. These are already in place in principle. For instance, it is required that each contracting state ensures that appropriate security controls, including screening where applicable, are applied to cargo and mail, prior to being loaded onto an aircraft. The keys words--" security controls"--are up for interpretation; different states could have different security controls, and they should be harmonized to ensure supply chain security and global security standards. Screening of cargo and mail are paramount to this consideration.

If laws and practices are the glue that keeps air cargo security together, political will is the fuel that will ignite its development. The thrust of political will lies in a security culture that must be visible in every state. A security culture would make states aware of their rights and duties, and, more importantly, enable states to assert them. States should ensure that security controls applied throughout the supply chain must be founded upon international baseline standards and that all players in that chain are appropriately certified.

Those who belong to a security culture are quick to educate and caution those who, out of ignorance, forgetfulness or personal weakness, partake in insecure conduct. This security consciousness would become a "culture" when all the 191 member states of ICAO as a whole make security violations socially and morally unacceptable within the group.

(Editor's note: Ruwantissa Abeyratne has worked in aviation management for 30 years, the last 23 with ICAO. He will be contributing regular commentary to Air Cargo World on legal issues affecting the industry.)

Ruwantissa Abeyratne is a former senior legal officer at ICAO
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Title Annotation:legal ledger
Comment:Air cargo security regulations need harmonization.(legal ledger)
Author:Abeyratne, Ruwantissa
Publication:Air Cargo World, International ed.
Date:Jun 1, 2013
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