UN launches innovative programme to detect and disrupt terrorist travel

Photo: UNHCR/Ivor Prickett A family climbs out of their destroyed home to flee minutes after an ISIS suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle on the street outside their home in the Al Andalus neighbourhood of Mosul, Iraq. Photo: UNHCR/Ivor Prickett

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


A new programme aimed at improving the tracking of suspected terrorists, using state-of-the-art software, was launched by the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) on Tuesday.

The launch at UN Headquarters in New York, of the United Nations Countering Terrorist Travel Programme, comes in the wake of the territorial defeat of the Iraq and Syria-based ISIL terrorist group. Thousands of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) are attempting to return home or relocate to safe havens or conflict zones, representing a major threat to international peace and security.

The Programme, described by UNOCT as a “flagship initiative,” is designed to help countries to enhance the detection of FTFs and serious criminals, through the collection, identification, and analysis of their passenger data.

A mix of technology and legislation

Several UN counter-terrorism departments, as well as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), will work closely together to implement the initiative, which provides countries with free access to advanced “goTravel” software, which analyses travel data to help countries detect and disrupt terrorists’ movements.

Another aspect of the Programme involves the UN supporting national authorities in the development of legislation and national expertise, via training and certification to operate the software lawfully and effectively.

The “goTravel” software is a reconfigured version of a system donated by the Netherlands to the United Nations.

Recent attacks ‘tragic reminders of global reach of the scourge of terrorism’

Speaking at the launch of the Programme, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said that recent attacks, notably those in Kenya, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, are “tragic reminders of the global reach of the scourge of terrorism.”

The UN chief noted the “dramatic movement” of terrorists to and from conflict zones around the world over the past seven years, in particular the estimated 40,000 FTFs from 110 countries who may have travelled to join terror groups in Syria and Iraq.

Mr. Guterres also stated that the Programme will help states to collect, process and share travel data with other competent national and international authorities, with full respect for privacy and other fundamental freedoms.

Balancing surveillance with data and human rights protection

In an interview with UN News, Jelle Postma, chief of the Countering Terrorist Travel and Aviation Security Section in the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, insisted that the technology was built with safeguards in place for data and human rights protection, explaining that after a certain period of time, sensitive data elements, such as sexual orientation, or trade union membership, will be automatically deleted by the system.

Mr Postma said that the UN will work with national parliaments to ensure that new surveillance laws include independent and transparent oversight mechanisms.

The programme is currently funded by India, Japan, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.         

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

6 ways to drive funding to transform the fashion industry

These European countries produce the most plastic waste per person

The vicious cycle of poverty and exclusion spreads fast engulfing more children

New Mozambique storm rips off roofs, brings lashing rain as aid response kicks in

We finally have a life-saving vaccine for Ebola

COVID-19: EU must step up efforts to tackle medicine shortages

5 myths about face masks under the microscope

These German businesses are hiring refugees to plug the skills gap

Getting people with disabilities into work requires data

Myanmar willing to repatriate ‘verified returnees’ from Bangladesh

Fighting Terrorism Online: EU Internet Forum committed to an EU-wide Crisis Protocol

Mass-graves found of at least 535 killed during ‘organized and planned’ inter-communal attacks in western DR Congo

Three-quarters of South Sudanese children have known nothing but war, says UNICEF

Germany is the world’s most innovative economy

EU prepares a banking union amidst financial ruins

Water scarcity is a growing problem across the Middle East. Is this how we solve it?

Τhe EU Refugee Crisis: a day in the life of a Refugee in Greece

Businesses are lacking moral leadership, according to employees

Ebola situation worsening in DR Congo, amidst growing ‘funding gap’ UN health agency warns

‘Eden bonds’: how rewilding could save the climate and your pension

What is true and not true about the new Coronavirus?

Refund for cancelled travel during the pandemic: Commission decides to refer SLOVAKIA to the Court of Justice

“China is the only BRICS country to have either met or possibly slightly surpassed my expectations”, BRICS inventor Jim O’ Neil from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

A fundamental transport transformation: Commission presents its plan for green, smart and affordable mobility

Commission welcomes entry into force of EU4Health programme

A Californian city gave people $500 a month – no strings attached. Here’s what happened

Unemployment and exclusion brings EU cities to boiling point

Europe is progressing most towards these UN Sustainability Goals: A report card for Europe

The EU’s outermost regions: strengthened partnership bears fruit

This is how smart technology is helping to combat overfishing

Council’s position on Visa Directive a step back for young people’s mobility

Judges urge Security Council to serve interests of all UN Member States

Questions directors need to ask in the age of stakeholder capitalism

How can emerging economies navigate the mobility transition?

UN food agency begins ‘last resort’ partial withdrawal of aid to opposition-held Yemeni capital

UN expert calls for international investigation into ‘evident murder’ of Jamal Khashoggi

Financial system risk is elevated and global standards are essential in managing cross-border infrastructure investment

Human rights breaches in Azerbaijan and Sudan

Actions not words: what was promised at the UN’s landmark climate summit?

These are the countries that eat the most meat

Draghi: A bridge from Brussels to Berlin

EU elections update: Can the EU voters vote unaffected from fake news and online disinformation?

How smarter machines can make us smarter humans

Coronavirus: new procedure to facilitate and speed up approval of adapted vaccines against COVID-19 variants

The Czech economy is thriving but boosting skills and productivity and transitioning to a low-carbon productive model is vital to sustainable and inclusive growth

At global health forum, UN officials call for strong, people-focused health systems

The West cannot ignore Russia; dazed Germany sitting on the fence

UN forum to bring ‘big space data’ benefits to disaster response in Africa

Q and A on the draft digital copyright directive

This is the human impact of COVID-19 – and how business can help

The UN went to one of the world’s richest countries to look at poverty – this is what it found

What can we do about the crisis in trust in public institutions?

Berlin Calling: DCX Expo on track to grow, in association with The European Sting

Policymakers can ensure the 4IR is fairer than the last three

104 countries have laws that prevent women from working in some jobs

MEPs call on EU countries to end precarious employment practices

Sweden has a plan to end all traffic accident deaths

4 solutions for reducing emissions from industrial clusters

From Prince to Picasso, the arts can be just the tonic, new UN health agency study shows

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s