Report of the 11th Session of the Integrity Sub-Committee

27 March 2012

Report of the 11th Session of the Integrity Sub-Committee

The Integrity Sub-Committee (ISC) held its 11th Session on 1 and 2 March 2012 at World Customs Organization (WCO) headquarters in Brussels. Over 120 delegates from all around the world took part in the session. The Agenda included a presentation on progress made in relation to integrity pilot projects and on the work undertaken to review the Integrity Development Guide, the main WCO training tool based entirely on the Organization’s Revised Arusha Declaration.

Two round tables were held. The first addressed communication as a tool to build trust in State institutions. One country, Cameroon, showed how its communication policy vis-à-vis Customs officers and the private sector has generated support for reform projects and has produced convincing results in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. The European Border Assistance Mission to Moldava and Ukraine (EUBAM) also took part in the round table and highlighted that Customs is often perceived by the public as being responsible for problems at the border, even if these are due to other agencies. Communication consequently plays a major part in changing this image and showing what Customs is doing to solve certain problems as well as the anti-corruption measures it is putting in place.

The second round table related to the usefulness of having an Internal Affairs Service to enhance integrity within Customs. Three countries, Ghana, Hong Kong, China and the United States, presented their Internal Affairs Service and the different facets of its activities. It transpired that each country has tailored its mechanisms to fit the local context, but that all are focused on combating corruption within their administration, through tests prior to recruitment, investigations, awareness-raising, and tests in the field to assess the integrity and professionalism of officers. The importance of ensuring that a Customs service offers the conditions required for its employees to flourish was also underscored.

Another topic of interest at the ISC was informal trade practices, their impact on integrity and how to mesh them with the reality of countries where, at times, 60% of traders are operating in the informal sector, and how Customs can manage this type of practice while ensuring compliance with the law. Against this backdrop, the International Trade Centre (ITC) reported on a trade facilitation project looking at informal trade involving women in Uganda. This pilot project will shortly be replicated in other countries within the East African Community (EAC).

The ISC also reaffirmed the importance of social and welfare activities to promote integrity and the concept of ‘esprit de corps’ within Customs and fiscal administrations. Finally, the WCO and the Netherlands Customs Administration presented the integrity component of the Leadership and Management Development Programme. This Programme stresses that leaders within Customs administrations need to take measures to promote integrity within their area of responsibility.

The 11th Session of the ISC, which was an arena for much lively discussion, was skilfully and tactfully chaired for the last time by Mr. Roy Skårslette, Attaché to the Embassy of Norway. Mr. David Dolan, Attaché to the Embassy of the United States, was elected the new Chairperson of the ISC.