Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tip of the Day: Requesting a Country-Specific Security Briefing

If you work for a global company ask for "a pre-departure, country-specific security briefing before traveling abroad."

This next sentence is a "bit tongue in cheek":

When you "ask for a country-specific security briefing," don't be surprised if you hear one of three very different responses from your employer to your query:

"Actually, we don't offer those to our travelers..."

or

"Why do you ask?" 

or

"Yes, when would you like to schedule the briefing?"

Unless you are employed by a very proactive, focused and deliberate employer, my suspicion is that you will receive far more of the first two responses than the third.

If you receive the third response to your query, consider yourself very, very fortunate and among the few.

If you are a tourist, an entrepreneur, an independent consultant, a freelance journalist or a foreign study student, you may have to conduct your own threat assessment.

Unless foreign travelers fall into the 20-30% of international employers, you may very well be told "that such briefings are not available." 

Note that generally most foreign travelers who get into trouble abroad know relatively little about the country they are visiting, particularly as it relates to personal security awareness.

If you have no choice but to go to a high-risk country, read carefully.


My first suggestion is that you go to your browser and type in "the name of the country your are traveling to" at least three of the below websites:

http://www.travel.state.gov (United States)

http://www.fco.gov.uk (United Kingdom)

http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca (Canada)

http://www.smarttraveller.gov.au (Australia)

http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de (Germany)

http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en (France)

http://www.government.nl/ministries/bz (The Netherlands)

http://www.exteriores.gob.es/portal/en/Paginas/inicio (Spain)

The reason I suggest that you review your intended destination at least at three of the above websites is so that you can do a comparative analysis to develop a consensus of collective advice.

Secondly, I urge you to go THE CIA FACTBOOK electronically in order to search the country you are destined to: http://www.cia.gov/library 

Thirdly, go to the below link to search for a copy of the US Department of State's link to BACKGROUND NOTES: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn

Fourth, go the below link, which is a highly useful Australian link that enables you to search for country reports: http://www.ediplomat.com

Fifth, I strongly urge that you visit the following link, which is a global report for 2013 issued by Transparency International which amounts to a global comparative study of each country's level of governmental tranparency:

2013_CPIbrochure_en.pdf

Sixth, go to your browser and type in the "name of the country you are traveling to" and search under:

"Crime in South Africa" (e.g.) or a similar search depending on your destination.

Seventh, to access The World Bank's country economic reports go to:

http://www.worldbank.org/en/country 

 All in all, this methodical research project should give you an overview of the threats you may face abroad, regardless of your destination.

I strongly suggest that you complete all seven steps in order to derive a clear understanding of physical, environment, political, economic, threat level and cultural expectations that you are likely to encounter.

It is my hope, providing you go through all seven steps, that you will be much better informed than you may be at the moment.  

Do...travel safe!