Reuters has a story today on the Ministerial Conference on International Transportation Security being held in Tokyo this week and hosted by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT). The participating nations and international organizations (listed in this link) issued a joint communiquÃ© on maritime security today, which reads in part:
“We recognise that acts of terrorism pose a serious threat to international maritime transport and that acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships recur with alarming consequences,” a statement issued on behalf of the transport ministers said after an initial session.
“We therefore believe that it is essential to reduce the vulnerability of international maritime transport to such unlawful acts.”
The conference attendees also intend to release statements on land transport security and aviation security before it concludes on Friday.
Wire stories indicate that Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta was the lead representative for the United States at the conference. It’s unclear from press reports to what extent DHS participated in this conference as well; they certainly should have, given the critical roles of CBP, TSA, and the Coast Guard for international transportation security.
I think it’s definitely a positive development for this conference to be taking place, but based on these initial accounts, its intended outcomes are a bit unclear to me. The act of bringing people and nations together to discuss these issues has value, especially on global issues that are still unsettled and prone to frequent international misunderstandings. But these sorts of statements and communiquÃ©s will be of little value unless there is real follow-through in terms of building local capacity, strengthening the relationships among key institutions and nations at the working level, and developing new mechanisms for information-sharing and the dissemination of best practices.
For more on how to “follow through”, allow me to plug a recently-released report that I co-authored, entitled Global Movement Management: Securing the Global Economy.
Update (1/17): This Daily Yomiuri story highlights the discussion on rail security at the conference.