Building States’ Capacity to Manage Legal Identity – Focus on e-Passports, Public Key Infrastructure

Renate Held (left), IOM’s Director for Migration Management,  and Benoit Poletti, General Director of INCERT, after signing the MoU. Photo: INCERT

Luxembourg – In a world increasingly on the move, technology races to efficiently support the daily management of departures and arrivals of millions of individuals at airports, seaports and land borders. This is a global challenge: facilitate national and international travels while optimizing security checks to adequately address border management risks. 

In order to mitigate some of these risks, it is strongly recommended that travelers use biometric travel documents, such as e-passports and electronic identity cards, to properly verify their identity when needed, and obviously at a border. 

Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM), too, is racing ahead to configure management strategies aimed at migration that will be safe, regular and secure for all. And, thanks to new technology, fast.  

IOM and INCERT, a public agency under the Ministry of the Economy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, signed an agreement to increase cooperation and support to interested States in the “Identity (ID) Management” field, with a special focus on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) as a relevant tool for enhanced migration management, cross-border mobility and border management, as well as humanitarian action. 

A PKI is a set of roles, policies, procedures and the related IT components needed to create, manage, distribute, use, store and revoke digital certificates and manage public-key encryption. Understanding and mastering PKI correctly is a prerequisite for States to be able to issue verifiable e-passports and other electronic travel documents to their citizens and other entitled holders, as well as to check foreign e-passports at their borders (air, land and sea).  

At the signing of the agreement in Bangkok during IOM’s Border Management and Identity Conference (BMIC), both sides emphasized the relevance of support by IOM to its member states in this technical field.  

“Being able to properly manage the legal identity of citizens and to issue globally trusted national travel documents, including e-passports, is becoming a necessary precondition for increased safe, orderly and regular cross- border mobility,” explained Florian G. Forster, the Head of IOM’s Division for Immigration and Border Management. “This is a complex undertaking, for which many States do require advice and assistance – an important work field for IOM. The cooperation with INCERT Luxembourg further strengthens IOM’s support to States in this regard.”    

Benoit Poletti is the General Director of INCERT and the Representative of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Traveler Identification Programme (TRIP). He added: “Over the years, Luxembourg has worked on developing in-depth know-how and technical expertise regarding ID Management and PKI. The Grand Duchy recognizes the need for international cooperation and support in this field, and we are committed to provide this support within global frameworks such as the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) and the ICAO TRIP Strategy to interested partner states also through multilateral UN agencies such as IOM, of which Luxembourg is a member.”   

Renate Held, IOM’s Director for Migration Management, noted the rapidly growing importance of information and communication technology in general for migration management: “There is a need to embrace the responsible and ethical use of new technology for better migration management. We support our member states in this endeavor, with a focus on developing and middle-income countries.” 

She added: “While it is obvious that technology has become key for travel documents and border management, IOM sees the relevance and impact of new technology also rapidly evolving in other migration management fields such as migration and health, as well as with regard to humanitarian action. IOM thereby follows a collaborative approach, engaging in close partnership with key actors within the UN and from outside. IOM’s strong engagement under the UN’s ICAO TRIP Strategy and related cooperation with its member states are testimony to this collaborative commitment.” 

For more information, please contact Florian Forster, Email:, and Renate Held, Email: at IOM HQ; or Benoit Poletti, Email: at INCERT.