ICAO, with the support of the Government of Qatar, held a Regional Seminar on Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs), Biometrics and Border Security on 31 October to 2 November 2011 in Doha, Qatar, at Marriot Doha Hotel.
This important event addressed current and emerging ICAO MRTD specifications, identity management best practices and related border security issues with focus on the Middle East region. Workshops was devoted to the practical aspects of ensuring the security and integrity of the issuance process, as well as travel document procurement and tender issues.
A select group of Industry Partners complemented the Seminar, displaying a broad range of products and services related to MRTDs, biometric identification, travel document security applications and border inspection systems.
MRTDs in the context of global security environment
ICAO develops specifications for passports, visas and ID cards used for travel, to ensure interoperability, promote enhanced facilitation, increase confidence in the reliability of travel documents, and contribute to national and international security. ICAO-compliant secure travel documents and a robust identity management regime are powerful tools in preventing and combating terrorism and serious transnational crime. However, remaining weaknesses in identity management or travel document security flaws tend to be exploited by terrorists and criminals worldwide and present a weak link in global efforts to ensure security, stability, good governance and the rule of law.
A key finding from the 9/11 Commission Report was that “for terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons.” The issuance and integrity of travel documents, border security and identity management remain an important and integral part of global counter-terrorism capacity-building efforts in furthering the objectives of the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001).
The evolving aviation security debate has recently moved beyond passenger screening to take into account border security matters such as identity management, inter-agency cooperation, data sharing and combating identity fraud. These new approaches were triggered in part by the failed Northwest Airlines bombing plot on 25 December 2010, which highlighted the need to be able to identify and stop perpetrators before they engage in attacks against aviation.
An ICAO Declaration on aviation security, unanimously adopted at the ICAO 37th Assembly, places particular emphasis on the collection, analysis and timely sharing of information, and urges States to share best practices in areas such as travel document security, fraud detection and effective border controls.
Who Should Attend
The Seminar was of particular interest to officials from national identity and travel document issuance authorities, passport offices, immigration, customs and other border inspection and law enforcement agencies; Ministries of Interior, National Security, Foreign Affairs, as well as embassy Consular staff. Other key stakeholders include private companies offering technologies and products for effective international identity and border management, airlines and airport authorities, security and facilitation consultants, academia and think tanks.