UN calls for stepped up security for planes and airports

The UN Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution calling for stepped up screening and security checks at airports worldwide to "detect and deter terrorist attacks" on civil aviation.

The resolution calls on all countries to tighten security at airport buildings, share information about possible threats, and provide advance passenger lists to national authorities "to detect... attempted entry into or transit through their territories".

It is the first resolution by the UN's most powerful body solely focused on aviation security, an issue of growing international concern following attacks on airplanes and airports from Ukraine and Egypt to Brussels and Istanbul.

The resolution expresses the council's concern "that terrorist groups continue to view civil aviation as an attractive target, with the aim of causing substantial loss of life, economic damage" and air links between countries.

Fang Liu, secretary general of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), told the council before the vote that there are currently over 100,000 daily flights carrying 10 million travellers, which adds up to 3.5 billion passengers per year plus "one-third of the world's trade by value" carried by planes.

She stressed that "the worldwide air transport network will double its volume of flights and passengers by 2030" which makes the protection of civil aviation from "acts of unlawful interference" one of ICAO's highest priorities.

Deadly suicide bombings this year at airports in Brussels and Istanbul are "a tragic reminder of the enormous challenges faces in security public areas, the inseparability of aviation security and national security, and of the significant socio-economic consequences of terrorism," Ms Liu said.

Following those attacks, she said ICAO developed new proposals aimed at enhancing security at airport facilities which are expected to be adopted by the agency's governing council at a meeting in November.

From 2017-19, ICAO will be developing a new Global Aviation Security Plan and among its goals are to provide greater technical assistance to countries and "accelerate the development of human resources".

While implementation of current aviation security standards are steadily improving both globally and regionally, Ms Liu ticked off a list of threats that need urgent attention.

They include small weapons carried by passengers, homemade bombs concealed in baggage and cargo, shoulder-fired ground-to-air missiles, security on the ground, cybersecurity, drones and insider threats.

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