At the invitation of the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan and the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), co-organizers of the 36th International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC), Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, WCO Deputy Secretary General, attended this event held in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 15 to 17 April 2019.
The opening ceremony was chaired by Mr. Novruz Mammadov, Azerbaijan’s Prime Minister, Mr. Safar Mehdiyev, Chairman of the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, and Mr. Earle D. Litzenberger, United States Ambassador to Azerbaijan. The event was attended by representatives of the police and security agencies from all over the world, as well as representatives of other stakeholders within the drug enforcement community.
During his interventions, Deputy Secretary General Treviño Chapa referred to the Punta Cana Resolution, which was adopted by the Customs Community in 2015 and recognizes Customs authorities as the first line of defence against organized crime and illicit trade. He continued by highlighting the importance of cooperation and information exchange among national security agencies, stressing that Customs should play an active role in this regard.
While acknowledging countries’ particularities in terms of their own national strategies, Mr. Treviño Chapa pointed out that the WCO promotes the use of advance data and that this forms one the core elements of its SAFE Framework of Standards. He underscored the fact that Customs’ objectives remain unchanged, namely facilitating trade, ensuring fair revenue collection and protecting society. As the only international organization focused solely on Customs matters, the WCO is working towards the development of international standards to assist its Members in achieving the above-mentioned goals, especially through the delivery of capacity building activities, and towards fostering international cooperation among its membership.
Other key speakers at the Conference included Mr. Uttam Dhillon, Acting Administrator of the United States’ DEA, Major-General Hazi Aslanov, Chief of the Drug Enforcement Department of Azerbaijan, and Mr. Paul Jenkins, Head of Region for North America and the Caribbean in the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
While in Baku, Deputy Secretary General Treviño Chapa had a meeting with Mr. Safar Mehdiyev, Chairman of the State Customs Committee, during which further areas of collaboration between the WCO and Azerbaijan were discussed, bearing in mind the reforms and innovations currently being pursued by the latter’s Customs.