Report of the 12th Session of the Integrity Sub-Committee

13 March 2013

The Integrity Sub-Committee (ISC) held its 12th Session on 28 February and 1 March 2013 at World Customs Organization (WCO) headquarters in Brussels. Approximately 160 delegates from all around the world registered. It was held back to back with the 4th Session of the Capacity Building Committee, thus underscoring the fact that integrity underpins Customs reform and modernization.

The Agenda included an update of the latest integrity activities with a special focus on the revised version of the WCO Integrity Development Guide to be recommended for adoption by the Policy Commission and the Council. The WCO integrity development strategy was also presented to the ISC and comprised a proposal for a new type of workshop focusing on enhancing political will within Customs. This strategy was endorsed by the ISC.

A special item was dedicated to the African Union and how its Customs administrations have implemented the Revised Arusha Declaration. Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Zambia presented their achievements in promoting integrity in Customs. Co-operation with the African Union will continue in order to help the region assess the situation with regard to the implementation of the WCO’s integrity tools.

A panel entitled "Talking openly about corruption builds trust" featured presentations from civil society (LAGA), Customs (Uruguay) and the private sector (ADAU). Three different approaches to talking about corruption and publicizing the measures taken in that context were presented. It became apparent that there is a need to be innovative in fighting corruption by trying to seek new partnerships. Acknowledging the problem and communicating about the issue of corruption have been put forward as part of the solution. This is exemplified by the results obtained by LAGA in the fight against corruption in the wildlife protection domain and by the implementation of an integrity pilot project in Uruguay entailing the establishment of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between Customs and the private sector. The objective of such MOUs is to address the problem of corruption both in Customs and in the private sector in a transparent manner.

Another topic of interest was the presentation of the latest developments with regard to informal trade practices since the 11th Session of the ISC at which a WCO research paper was presented. The WCO Research and Strategies Unit provided an update on the recent workshop organized in Lome (Togo) on informal trade practices and introduced the themes of the forthcoming WCO Conference entitled "Informality, International Trade and Customs" to be held on 3 and 4 June 2013.

The 12th Session of the ISC provided a platform for lively discussions and was skilfully led by Mr. David Dolan (USCBP), who was re-elected as Chairperson for another year.