Border agencies throughout Central Asia face profound security risks and challenges. These threats can come from a wide array of sources: the fragile security situation in Afghanistan, potential regional instability arising from religious extremism, terrorism, narcotics and weapons trafficking, as well as other types of illicit smuggling.
Since 2003, the joint European Union/UNDP Border Management programme in Central Asia (BOMCA) has been responding to these challenges for enhanced border security in the region. As former UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator, Rebeca Grynspan remarked in 2012:
BOMCA promotes a paradigm shift in border management, from a militaristic approach – that these days may be both expensive and impractical where large borders are involved – to one which combines security with openness, complementing security with more cross-border trust-building, people-to-people exchange, information sharing, professionalization and local human development.
As such, trainings have played a key role in helping make this shift. In Kazakhstan, more than 200 border patrol and customs officers underwent training courses organized by the programme on border management. The trainings were part of the wider response to the challenges of border security issues and the illicit movement of people and goods in the region.
The trainings organized by the project have brought together a wide array of national actors including officers and specialists from the National Security Committee, Border Guard Service, Customs Control Committee of the Ministry of Finance, Inter-agency Training Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
International experts from Lithuania, Georgia, Austria, Slovakia, and Czech Republic also introduced modern methods for detection and identification of drugs and illicit substances, and facilitated discussions on drug abuse and trafficking statistics and trends in the region.
As one participant noted, “We liked the interactive way of the trainings, and close contact between the trainer and the participants.”
This work will enhance the law enforcement agencies’ investigative capacities and evidence exchanging, along with inter-institutional cooperation throughout the region.
Another participant, a law enforcement professional, said following the final training, “The experience I gained is very useful. We had discussions and debates along the workshop, and it allowed me to find out so many new details that are important for the job.”