Safeguarding Skies: The critical link between UN Counter-Terrorism and Aviation Security commitments

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Date and time: 
​Tuesday, 24 October 2023
8:00 am


​ICAO HQ, CR3, 1st floor

​75 minutes


Terrorism continues to pose a significant threat to international peace and security, necessitating a coordinated global response. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been at the forefront of combatting terrorism by adopting various resolutions aimed at countering this menace, including terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure (United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2341 (2017)) and civil aviation (UNSCR 2309 (2016)).


Security threats to civil aviation are growing in complexity, with a widening range of non-State actors deploying new modus operandi such as cyber-attacks and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).


These developments and the steady stream of terrorist propaganda indicate that terrorist groups continue to perceive attacks against international civil aviation as an effective way to cause substantial loss of life, economic damage and disruptions. Given the global and interconnected nature of the international civil aviation industry, Member States in all regions are vulnerable to such attacks and must work together to counter it – using UN counter-terrorism commitments as a common foundation.


In UNSCR 2309 (2016), the Council expresses "particular concern" that terrorist groups are actively seeking ways to defeat or circumvent aviation security and affirmed the role of ICAO as the United Nations' organization responsible for developing international aviation security standards, monitoring their implementation and assisting States with compliance. Importantly, the Council seeks the support of all States in working with ICAO to ensure its standards are reviewed and adapted to effectively address the threat posed by terrorists targeting civil aviation. These requirements have once again been underlined in the recent 8th Review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (A/RES/60/288).


As the Security Council's entity tasked with assessing the implementation of counter-terrorism resolutions, the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and ICAO have developed a robust partnership, which includes the participation of ICAO experts in the Committee's country visits, special meetings and open briefings, as well as in various CTED activities.


ICAO has also established longstanding cooperation with the United Nations Office for Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT). In line with the All-UN approach and work under the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact, ICAO, CTED and UNOCT cooperate closely on various global initiatives including addressing threats posed by misuse of UAS, preventing terrorist attacks on vulnerable targets, preventing the misuse of information and communications technologies (ICT) by terrorists, countering terrorist travel using passenger data (within the multi-stakeholder UN Countering Terrorist Travel Programme) and enhancing Member States' interagency coordination and building their capacity to conduct comprehensive threat assessments to support aviation risk assessments (within the Programme on Threat Assessment Models for Aviation Security ("TAM Programme").


ICAO works closely with other organizations under the UN Counter-Terrorism Global Coordination Compact in support of civil aviation security and the implementation of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, in particular with the UNODC and UNICRI, where ICAO collaborates on a range of issues including critical infrastructure protection in a counter-terrorism context, and building the capacity of Member States to exchange passenger data.

​Recognizing the pivotal role of UN commitments in shaping the global response to terrorism, this side event aims to:
  • explore the critical link between counter-terrorism and aviation security and highlight the importance of aligning efforts;
  • highlight the need to establish information sharing mechanisms that support risk assessments designed to prevent and protect against terrorist threats to civil aviation, and explore the scope for strengthening cooperation in this regard;
  • provide a platform for international/regional organizations, national civil aviation authorities and counter-terrorism authorities to share knowledge, experiences, and best practices in combatting terrorism and protecting civil aviation critical infrastructure, and detail their roles in providing capacity building to empower States to respond effectively to terrorist threats; and
  • foster greater understanding and commitment among the aviation security community to implement and enforce UN counter-terrorism commitments and bolster collective efforts to ensure safe skies. 
Intended Audience:
The intended audience for this side event is national civil aviation representatives charged with aviation security and/or counter-terrorism tasks as well as international/regional organization representatives. Individuals from the private sector, civil society and academia are also encouraged to join this event and provide their perspectives on the implementation of the aforementioned UN counter-terrorism commitments, including ways to enhance implementation. 
Master of Ceremony

Mr. Sylvain Lefoyer, Deputy Director, Aviation Security and Facilitation, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)


Opening remarks

Mr. Robert Rae, Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations

Ms. Natalia Gherman, Assistant Secretary-General, Executive Director, United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee (UNCTED)


SESSION I - The critical link between counter-terrorism and aviation security in the light of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs)

Ms. Anne-Maria Seesmaa, Legal Officer, UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED)

Mr. Sylvain Lefoyer, Deputy Director, Aviation Security and Facilitation, ICAO


SESSION II - "All-UN" initiatives towards the implementation of UNSCRs aimed at protecting critical infrastructure

Ms. Rachel Manis, Programme Management Officer, Head Threat Assessment Models Programme, UN Countering Terrorist Travel Programme (CT Travel), United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT)

Mr. Khalil Otmane, Programme Manager, Autonomous and Remotely Operated Systems, United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT)

Mr. Andrew Clarke, Technical Officer, Maritime Security Section, Maritime Safety Division, International Maritime Organization (IMO)


Q/A Session   


Closing remarks

Mr. Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT)


Networking Breakfast

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