Integrity programme overview

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 jeopardize the well-being of all citizens. Integrity is a prerequisite for the proper functioning of a Customs administration.

Background

Integrity in Customs was initially placed on the WCO Agenda in the late 1980s to address the problem of corruption in public service and more specifically in Customs. It culminated in 1993 with the adoption of the WCO Arusha Declaration concerning Integrity in Customs, showing the willingness of the international customs community to comply with rules governing Integrity in order to reduce and, eventually, eliminate opportunities for corruption.

In 2003, WCO members unanimously endorsed the Revised Arusha Declaration [ar] [de] [es] [no] [pt] [ru], a focal instrument to prevent corruption and increase the level of integrity in Customs. The WCO Revised Arusha Declaration provides Customs administrations with a practical approach for anti-corruption policies and practices as stipulated in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) Article 5.  The Declaration also aligns with UNCAC Articles 7 (Public Sector), 8 (Codes of Conduct for Public Officials), 10 (Public reporting), and encompasses elements of a number of other Articles of the Convention relating to transparency and engagement with the private sector.

Other integrity development instruments allowing self-assessment, action planning, implementation and evaluation have been created over the years, such as the Integrity Development Guide [es] [ar] [ru] [pt] which was conceived as a comprehensive integrity instrument set.

In response to the recommendation made at the 3rd Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity in June 2005, the WCO produced the first version of the WCO Compendium of Integrity Best Practices (2007) in collaboration with its member administrations. It was later enhanced with the WCO Compilation of Integrity Practices (2017). The WCO recently published a Compilation of Integrity Practices on Internal Control and Relationship with External Controls [pt] [ar], focused on the four key areas of governance of internal controls, operational aspects, relationship with external controls and sharing good practices amongst WCO members.

Over tools such as the Model Code of Ethics and Conduct [es] [ar] [ru] [pt] was developed over the past 15 years. Additional efforts to improve integrity in Customs at global, national and regional levels include the Maputo Declaration, adopted in March 2002 by the Heads of Customs across the African Continent; the Almaty Integrity Resolution (Kazakhstan, January 2007); and the Nairobi Resolution on Integrity (Kenya, February 2007).

Integrity Sub-Committee

The Integrity Sub-Committee was established in 2001 with the purpose to:

  • Act as a focal point for the design, development, implementation and evaluation of the WCO Integrity Action Plan and Integrity-related tools;
  • Advise the Council, through the Policy Commission, on the appropriateness of WCO strategies and priorities necessary to promote the importance of Integrity and ensure the effective implementation of the Revised Arusha Declaration on Integrity in Customs;
  • Provide a forum for the exchange of views, experiences and best-practice approaches between Member administrations;
  • Ensure effective co-ordination and promotion of Integrity-related activities with the private sector and other international organizations;
  • Ensure effective integration of Integrity principles in all WCO training and technical assistance programmes, conventions and other instruments.

The ISC meetings’ themes relate to the International Customs community’s arising issues on the topic. The latest Integrity Sub-Committee meetings have been dedicated to:

  • ISC12 – Customs and the Private sector
  • ISC13 – Risk mapping in the context of anti-corruption
  • ISC14 – HR management as a key element to enhance integrity
  • ISC15 – Lifestyle audits, defining a sound rotation policy for sensitive positions and communicating strategically to the public
  • ISC16 – Collective Action,  Internal Affairs, Integrity Strategy
  • ISC17 – Security & Integrity: Curbing threats, Leveraging opportunities
  • ISC18 – Monitoring and Measuring Integrity to Enhance Ethical Climate and Compliance

E-learning course