Well deserved kudos to the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary Janet Napolitano.  Since the failed December bombing attempt over Detroit demonstrated gaps in airport security DHS has been engaged in an extensive outreach around the world.  Convening regional meetings in every corner of the globe, DHS has worked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop an agreement on an international set of standards for security in the aviation industry.

To be sure, Americans can’t outsource its security to other nations.  But it is all the more worthwhile and successful when we can, through the power of persuasion and the rational force of our concerns, help the entire international community raise the bar for a safer world for everyone.  Last week, in the culmination of a 9-month effort, Secretary Napolitano participated in the ICAO Triennial Assembly where representatives from nearly 190 ICAO countries approved a joint Declaration on Aviation Security. The declaration approved in Montreal will:

  • Broaden existing cooperation mechanisms among the countries and with other parties to the Chicago Convention, and the civil aviation industry, for information exchange;
  • Provide for the sharing of best practices in a range of areas related to civil aviation, such as screening and inspection techniques, airport security, behavioral detection, and passenger targeting analysis;
  • Call for the utilization of modern technologies to detect prohibited materials and to prevent the carriage of such materials on board aircraft;
  • Set a standard that countries should transmit in a timely manner passengers information prior to takeoff to effectively support screening, as well as develop and improve compatible systems for the collection and use of advance passenger information (API) and passenger name record (PNR) information.

These are all ideas that have been developed in the US since September 11.  Though careful, patient work, DHS has now made them part of the international discussion.  And everyone will be the safer for it.