Customs administrations around the world play a key role in trade facilitation, revenue collection, community protection and national security. As such, the lack of integrity in Customs can distort trade and investment opportunities, undermine public trust in government administration and ultimately jeopardise the well being of all citizens. Integrity is a prerequisite for the proper functioning of a Customs administration.
The WCO and Members discussed the key factors to prevent corruption and increase the level of integrity in Customs and concluded the Revised Arusha Declaration
in 2003. Recognising the revised Arusha Declaration, Members are currently endeavouring to improve integrity through a series of processes of self-assessment, action planning, implementation and evaluation by using a series of WCO integrity tools which have been developed for more than a decade.
For more than a decade the WCO has played an active and key role in addressing the complex problem of corruption in public service and more specifically in Customs. Integrity in Customs was initially placed on the WCO Agenda in the late 1980s and culminated in the adoption, in 1993, of the WCO Arusha Declaration on Integrity in Customs. This Declaration shows the willingness of the WCO to encourage its Members to comply with rules governing integrity and to carry out their activities effectively. It contains specific elements that are designed to improve the efficiency of Member administrations and reduce or eliminate opportunities for corruption. It is the focal point for the WCO’s anti-corruption and Integrity development effort.
Since then WCO’s integrity strategy and programme has progressed. An institutional mechanism such as an Integrity Working Group, currently Integrity Sub-Committee (terms of reference) was established and supporting instruments such as WCO Integrity Self-Assessment Guide and Model Code of Ethics and Conduct (Spanish) as well as the WCO Integrity Action Plan were developed.
10 years later the WCO adopted the Revised Arusha Declaration in its Council Sessions in 2003. To assist Members in implementing the Revised Arusha Declaration, the WCO has developed the Integrity Development Guide [es] [ar] as a comprehensive integrity tool set.
In June 2005, in response to the recommendation made at the 3rd Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity, the WCO produced the first version of the WCO Compendium of Integrity Best Practices in collaboration with its Member administrations. A database of the integrity best practices (Integrity Best Practice Resource Centre) is also developed.
There have been many undertakings to improve integrity in Customs at national and regional levels, in addition to the global efforts. The key examples are the Maputo Declaration, adopted in March 2002 by the Heads of Customs across the African Continent; the Almaty Integrity Resolution (done at Almaty, Kazakhstan, in January 2007); and the Nairobi Resolution on Integrity (done at Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2007).