Following the events of 11 September 2001, the Maritime Transport Committee identified a number of key areas where effort by the OECD could prove crucial to establishing a secure transport network, without seriously hindering the flow of trade or people, or placing unnecessary economic burdens on governments and industry. This work has been accorded very high priority by the Committee in keeping with the importance and urgency of the issue, and to reflect the high priority being given to security in the OECD.
The work represents four projects relating to: ownership and control of ships; risk analysis and economic implications; verification of cargoes; and best practices.
Ownership and control of ships
The objective of this project is to first understand how owners can create a cloak of secrecy around their ownership of specific vessels, and then, investigate how such practices could be addressed and to produce some "best" practices that could be adopted by registers to enhance transparency, while still enabling confidentiality for commercially sensitive details that are not related to security.
The first phase of this project has been completed. The report on Ownership and Control which examines mechanisms in both ship registers and corporate instruments that can facilitate the cloaking of beneficial ownership was released in March 2003. The report found that not only is it possible for shipowners to hide their identities, but that it is very easy to do so, through the use of compliant ship registers and the many corporate vehicles that are available in international off-shore centres to hide identities. The report also found that while the problem is centred on open registers (which market anonymity as one of their advantages) traditional registers, including those in the OECD, are not immune from being used by potential terrorists.
The second phase of the project, currently being undertaken, involves identifying remedies that could be adopted to ensure adequate transparency of ownership and control in shipping registers. The results of this work should be examined by the Committee at its November 2003 meeting.
Risk analysis and economic implications
Security actions that would virtually shut down the circulation of both passengers and trade are untenable, and however serious the security threats may be such intense security measures could not be sustained for more than a few days at a time. In order to make sensible judgements about when to apply security measures, and their degree of intensity it is necessary to better understand the types and likelihood of risks faced by the transport network.
A report that assesses the vulnerability of the maritime transport system to be used and/or targeted by terrorists, explores the costs that might be associated with such an attack, and undertakes a preliminary assessment of the likely costs imposed by existing and/or proposed anti-terrorism measures for the sector is to be considered by the MTC at its June 2003 meeting.
Verification of cargoes
For cargo to be secure it would be necessary to firstly ensure that what is loaded at the point of origin is known, and then that the transport of the cargo is secure throughout its journey to ensure that it is not tampered with or otherwise come under the control of terrorists until it is safety delivered.
The verification of cargo at origin will focus on possible activities by receiving or transit countries to ensure the legitimacy of that cargo. This may include the possibility of adapting the air cargo practice of dealing with known shippers and known transport operators, to assist in the verification process and minimize the likelihood of dangerous items being included in cargo, even though this practice will be much more difficult to implement in the maritime liner trade.
With respect to ensuring the integrity of the cargo during its transportation and storage, this will be done by examining alternative strategies, such as tamper-proof seals, electronic surveillance of cargoes (perhaps linked to satellite communications) and the possibility of regular or random inspections during the journey. The concept of the known transport and terminal operator will also be examined in this context.
This project is being undertaken in co-operation with the OECD's Road Transport Research Programme (RTR) and as a joint project with the European Conference of Ministers for Transport (ECMT). It is expected that a report will be available for consideration by the MTC and the ECMT Council of Ministers in early 2004.
Since the rapid responses to the events of 11 September 2001 there has been an opportunity to give more thorough consideration to the potential risks of terrorism involving the transport network, and to better appraise the suitability and impact of various responses.
This project, which will be undertaken in 2004, will therefore attempt to pull together various "best practices" for a range of transport security responses, in order to provide both national administrations and industry bodies with readily available information to take into account in assessing their security needs and deciding on their appropriate responses.