Many security threats emanate from the broader geographic area encompassing the three South American States of Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. These threats include document gaps and challenges relating to travel documents security and border management procedures and capabilities, which leave this ‘Southern Cone’ vulnerable to criminal and terrorist activities. The sub-region’s geography makes it a key trans-shipment route for South American narcotics destined to the United States and Europe, as well as for illegal migration, human trafficking, and other criminal activities. Such illicit activities have been linked to terrorism and its financing. In spite of concerted efforts by all three countries there continues to be challenges to be addressed.
Argentina, South America’s second-largest country, has a large number of land, sea and air entry points. Its remote and often porous borders enable the movement of drugs, arms and other illicit goods into and through the country. Moreover, there are indications that localized crime groups have developed ties with transnational criminal organizations present in the country and involved in drug trafficking from Argentina’s northern neighbor, Bolivia, over the northeastern border with Paraguay.
Paraguay has taken steps to enhance its counter-terrorism efforts, but those efforts continue to be hampered by gaps and challenges in immigration, customs, and law enforcement controls along its borders. Ciudad del Este is the heart of Paraguay’s informal economy and a centre for drug trafficking, organized crime, terrorist financing, arms smuggling, money laundering and fundraising for extremist organizations.
Uruguay’s strategic geography is attractive to transnational criminal organizations who engage in smuggling operations in the region, or in transit to other markets. Montevideo’s prominence as an international seaport renders Uruguay an attractive transit country for illegal cargo from South America bound for North American, European and African markets.
The Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR for its Spanish initials) is a regional integration process which has also supported cooperative and national efforts to combat cross-border organized crime, its potential nexus with terrorist activities, and their destabilizing effects on the States within the region and beyond. However, these efforts are challenged by borders that are often remote and porous, vulnerable to exploitation by criminal organizations that are deeply rooted in the area, and exacerbated by the complexity of the broader region’s organized crime clusters, as well as the challenges within national and regional counter-terrorism architecture.
The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) within the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), under the framework of its global Border Security Management (BSM) Programme, supports Member States in strengthening border security and management capacities to counter terrorism, by stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) across land, air, and maritime borders, as well as preventing the cross-border movement of illicit cargo and related transnational crimes, including through enhanced inter-agency and international cooperation, to collectively address terrorism-related threats more effectively and efficiently.
This webinar, focusing on ‘Challenges at Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay Borders in the Context of Counter-Terrorism and Related Transnational Organized Crime’, aims to virtually delve into the region-specific context and explore threat landscapes, border security and management challenges and successes, and discuss response measures and mechanisms related to countering terrorism and transnational organized crime. The virtual discussions will include presentations from key experts from the region, as well as incorporating the international perspective, and will touch on current threats and the evolving terrorism landscape, the nexus between transnational organized crime and terrorism, main gaps and challenges for border management, and the need for border security strategies, plans of action, and processes that incorporate counter-terrorism components as well as crisis and risk management mechanisms within the current pandemic context.
The webinar will bring together counter-terrorism coordinators, border and law enforcement experts and practitioners from national governments, as well as international experts from the private sector, civil society, academia, and other relevant international, regional and sub-regional organizations to share their experience and ideas for addressing the existing challenges.
 MERCOSUR was initially established in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Promoting the principles of democracy and economic development, its main objective has been to promote a common space that generates business and investment opportunities through the competitive integration of national economies into the international market.