UNICRI successfully conducted the second round of train-the-trainer (TTT) sessions on trafficking of radiological and nuclear (RN) materials. These sessions were designed for selected trainees (ten per country) from the Philippines and Lao PDR. The first TTT session took place in Manila from July 24 to 27, 2023, followed by the second session in Vang Vieng from July 31 to August 3. These sessions marked the culmination of an extensive process that began last year and was further nurtured through dedicated online coaching.
Both training sessions encompassed comprehensive reviews of the core training curricula of the CONTACT programme. Each session involved individual coaching with the team of trainees assigned to different modules, along with rehearsals for their respective presentations. Beyond enhancing trainees' knowledge on preventing RN trafficking through intelligence-led operations, the CONTACT Team played a pivotal role in refining their training capabilities.
To foster practical understanding and assess shared knowledge, UNICRI organized a scenario-based discussion grounded in real-life cases. This exercise envisioned deploying inter-agency mechanisms and promoting multilateral collaboration at national, regional and international levels.
Following the successful completion of the TTT, the inter-agency teams from both countries conducted their respective national training sessions. The first national training took place in Manila on July 28, while the second one was held in Vientiane on August 4. The Filipino Team effectively raised awareness regarding RN trafficking issues among approximately 40 representatives from key security agencies. Meanwhile, the Lao PDR team significantly enhanced the foundational understanding of 20 participants.
Each national training comprised four distinct sessions, covering the following topics: (i) Introduction to illicit trafficking of RN materials; (ii) Fundamentals of radiation and safety standards; (iii) National detection architecture, including the national legal framework and detection equipment; and (iv) Strategies to combat illicit trafficking, with a specific focus on intelligence-led operations. In the concluding phases of the training, the national teams facilitated a scenario-based discussion exercise, enabling participants to effectively apply the knowledge acquired during the substantive sessions.
All the training activities described above were conducted within the framework of the project CONTACT – Enhancing capacities to prevent the trafficking of radiological and nuclear material in Southeast Asia – funded by Global Affairs Canada.
During their opening remarks at the respective national training sessions, Director Philip Costuna of the Anti-Terrorism Council's Program Management Center in the Philippines and H.E. Kalamoungkhoun Souphanouvong, Deputy Director General of the Department of International Organizations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lao PDR, both expressed their appreciation for the enduring and successful partnership between their countries and UNICRI. They underlined the significance of the CONTACT Southeast Asia project within the broader regional context, given the persistent threats posed by terrorism and organized crime. Mr. Souphanouvong particularly emphasized that CONTACT Southeast Asia stands as an innovative initiative in Lao PDR, addressing RN trafficking. He expressed gratitude for the progress achieved by trainees with the support of UNICRI. Both representatives from the respective countries expressed their desire for continued collaboration with UNICRI to build upon the positive outcomes achieved thus far.
In the coming weeks, UNICRI will maintain its commitment by providing ongoing assistance to intelligence and law enforcement officers from the Philippines and Laos. Additionally, preparations will begin for the second iteration of the train-the-trainer program and the national training session in Cambodia, scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2023.
About the project:
CONTACT – Southeast Asia aims to enhance the capacities of nuclear security stakeholders in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Philippines, to devise and carry out operations in order to thwart radiological and nuclear (RN) trafficking attempts, as well as to foster regional cooperation and communication among the three partner countries. The project is funded by Global Affairs Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program.