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Project News: 3rd International Border Management Conference successfully completed

30 November 2020

The 3rd International Border Management Conference took place on 23-24 November, 2020. Organised by ICMPD, sponsored by the European Union via several EU-financed projects, the event welcomed numerous high-level speakers. More than 250 participants from over 50 countries followed the two-day conference remotely in four different languages.

The conference was a continuation of the previous years’ events in Yerevan in 2019 and Beirut in 2018, however, it looked and functioned quite differently from years past. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic limitations, the conference was moved online from the usual in-person setting, which brought along new opportunities for the event. For the first time, the conference was hosted in an online format, which facilitated recordings which will be available to registrants for re-watch in all four languages. Participants also had the opportunity to ask questions directly and to choose which sessions to join at their leisure. The online nature of this event also provided a secure platform where field experts and high-level speakers could exchange openly. Furthermore, 276 registrations were received, toppling previous years’ attendance rates purely by virtue of “unlimited seating,” so-to-speak, and not to mention, the audience joined from over 50 countries, whose only concern needs be the time difference for some, and not the expenses and effort of travel and related logistics.    

The conference was steered by members of ICMPD’s Border Management and Security (BMS) Programme, with Head of Programme Mr. Borut Eržen and Senior BMS Advisors Mr. Jean-Yves Charriou and Ms. Monika Weber as moderators. The keynote speeches were provided by Mr. Michael Spindelegger, ICMPD Director General; Mr. Maciej Popowski, Acting Director General, European Commission, DG NEAR; Mr. Berndt Körner, Deputy Executive Director, FRONTEX; Brig. Gen. Youssef Haddad, Lebanese Armed Forces, Chairman of the Border Control Committee; and Mr. Martijn Pluim, ICMPD Director of Migration Dialogues and Cooperation. Following the introduction, the two days were split into two thematic roundtables, inviting topic experts to share their experience and knowledge in the changing topic of everyday border management. 

Day 1 looked at border management responses for the era of tomorrow from the perspective of highly-ranked officials and experts with backgrounds in customs, border guard, military, police, economic and security authorities from across the world. The speakers were able to shed light through different angles on numerous aspects of comprehensive border governance, whether related to border security, trade facilitation or even mobilisation of local border communities.

Day 2 followed with a more technical, forward-looking insight into the concept of morphing, regarding challenges and opportunities in biometrics, new modalities and new approaches. This roundtable offered different views on document security, counterterrorism, implications for migration patterns as well as academic and security-sector views on all that encompasses morphing. The need for further research, capacity building, cooperation and coordination, as well as awareness raising and sharing good practices amongst different actors involved in border management, were named as key elements needed for tackling biometric manipulations and facilitating morphing detection at the borders.

The conference concluded with a speech by Mr. Eržen, admitting that while this year has only reinforced how unpredictable the future can be, border management will remain a topic at the forefront of world interest and committed cooperation between countries and agencies is needed more than ever.  While looking to the future, Mr. Eržen could not help but hope that the next conference of 2021 will be back to a normal, in-person setting, and wished viewers a safe “logging out of their computers,” in lieu of a safe trip home. 

The conference was jointly financed by funds of the projects Mobility Partnership Facility, Prague Process, Strengthening Border Security in Ghana (SBS Ghana), and Strengthening Capability for Integrated Border Management in Lebanon (EU IBM Lebanon phase III) – as well as the Federal Republic of Germany through the Support Programme for the Tunisian Government in the field of Integrated Border Management (IBM Tunisia Phase III). The event was hosted online in 4 different languages (English, French, Russian and Arabic).


Download the Agenda of the conference here.