A Regional Seminar on Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs) and Traveller Identification Management will take place on 8-10 April 2014 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The Seminar, hosted by the Government of Uzbekistan, is organized by ICAO and supported by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It will address MRTD standards and best practices, assistance and capacity-building needs of States, identification management and related border security issues.
The MRTD Seminar will assist Member States in Central Asia and Eastern Europe in implementing ICAO MRTD specifications and related ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). The Seminar will specifically address the needs of States to further enhance the integrity of the passport issuance process and ensure robust identification management in order to maximize border security and facilitation benefits.
In particular, the Regional Seminar will focus on the ICAO Traveller Identification Programme (ICAO TRIP) Strategy which was approved by the Council and endorsed by the ICAO Assembly in October 2013. The Strategy, responding to the global driving forces and needs of Member States, provides a framework for achieving the maximum benefits of travel documents in the future. It brings together the elements of identification management and builds on ICAO leadership in matters related to Machine Readable Travel Documents.
The key point of the ICAO TRIP Strategy is a recognized need for a holistic and integrated approach to traveller identification management. The approach that links the five elements of traveller identification and border controls into a coherent framework: evidence of identification, document issuance and control, MRTDs, inspection systems and tools, and interoperable applications.
ICAO recognizes the benefits of traveller identification management to aviation security and facilitation. ICAO’s mission is to contribute to the capacity of Member States to uniquely identify individuals by providing tools and knowledge to establish and confirm the identity of travellers.
Another focus of the Regional Seminar in Uzbekistan is technical assistance and capacity building support to States in need. The TRIP Strategy, ambitious and relevant as it is, will bring results and benefits only if ICAO Member States implement it in practice. In many cases, challenges to implementation are lack of technical expertise or funding or both. The Seminar is an opportunity to discuss assistance needs with States and regional organizations in Central Asia, and explore ways for consolidating regional cooperation and more effective capacity-building assistance.
The effective co-ordination of regional capacity-building assistance is just one of the many reasons why the OSCE is supporting this seminar. Since 2003, the OSCE assists its participating States with strengthening the security of travel documents and their issuance processes in line with ICAO standards, and covering many aspects of the TRIP Strategy.
Projects, particularly in Central Asia, focus on upgrading technological security features of passports and making sure that the processes used to vouch for the identity of an applicant during the application phase are secure. The OSCE also promotes effective solutions at borders to cut waiting times for travellers whilst giving greater assurances to border control officers that travel documents are genuine.
Given the role of the OSCE as a regional platform for information exchange and implementer of UN instruments related to the fight against terrorism, the Seminar represents a continuation of OSCE efforts to prevent the cross-border movement of terrorists and other criminals using forged or fraudulent travel documents.
An industry exhibition will complement the Seminar with a broad range of products and services related to MRTDs, biometric identification, travel document security applications and border inspection systems. Seminar participants will have an opportunity to interact with ICAO industry partners and experts to discuss the latest available traveller identification technologies.
ICAO develops international specifications for passports, visas and ID cards used for travel, in order to ensure interoperability, enhance facilitation, increase confidence in the reliability of travel documents, and contribute to national and international security. ICAO-compliant secure travel documents - and a robust identification management regime - are powerful tools in preventing and combating terrorism and serious transnational crime. Any 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 in 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 identification 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).
As usual, MRTD Seminar speakers and facilitators include top experts in the field, policy makers and senior managers, practitioners and researchers, many from the relevant working groups of ICAO, ISO and other international organizations.
The MRTD Regional Seminar will be of particular interest to government officials from national identity and travel document issuance authorities, civil registries, passport offices, immigration, customs and other border inspection and law enforcement agencies; Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, as well as embassy Consular staff. Other key stakeholders include international organizations, donor agencies, 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. Please review the “Visa and Other Information” section above for important deadlines.