Successful Anniversary 20th Session of the Integrity Sub-Committee – Evolution of Integrity in Customs and the Need to be Responsive

03 March 2021

The 20th session of the WCO Integrity Sub-Committee (ISC), which held under the theme “Evolution of Integrity in Customs and the Need to be Responsive” was conducted in two phases. The document-based phase 1 took place from 28 January to 11 February and was followed by the phase 2 web-conference sessions which held from 25 to 26 February 2021. The web-conference was attended by more than 240 delegates from Member administrations, development partners, academia, observers and other stakeholders.

The meeting was opened by the WCO Deputy Secretary General (DSG) Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa who welcomed the delegates and underlined the theme of the meeting that focused on the 20 years of WCO and its Members’ capacity building efforts on integrity development. The DSG highlighted the significant progress made by the WCO Members in strengthening integrity and fighting corruption within Customs. He stressed that, this year in particular, with the massive global challenges posed by the COVID-19, integrity efforts within the Customs community become even more vital. He emphasized that the role played by Customs is becoming increasingly prominent in addressing the crisis, given that Customs is at the forefront of the global supply chain and integrity is a key element in safeguarding the global economic recovery process.

Mr. Constantine PALICARSKY, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), delivered a keynote address emphasizing the essence of maintaining Customs integrity in the event of sustained emergencies such as global health crisis. Mr. Palicarsky underlined the need to devise anti-corruption strategies using a comprehensive and holistic approach which is supported by the UN Convention Against Corruption. He reiterated the importance of maintaining integrity in public sector institutions, further detailed on internal and external corruption risks posed by the pandemic and focused on risk factors which are specific to Customs. 

The ISC also benefited from a dynamic panel discussion on “Taking stock of two decades: Evolution of the WCO Integrity Agenda” with participation of Ms. Amina Ahmady, Director General of Afghanistan Customs, Mr. Edwin Nuvaga Fongod, Director General of Cameroon Customs and Dr. Tom Voege, Head of EU Affairs in the International Chamber of Commerce. Panelists discussed how the dynamically evolving Customs environment and external factors, such as the use of new technologies, transformation of trade standards, constant trade vulnerabilities and global crises situations, have impacted the evolution of integrity in Customs. They outlined the outstanding challenges, priority areas and the way forward for the next decade of the ISC.

In addition, through a series of presentations and subsequent discussions, the WCO Members were introduced to the concept of “Psychological contracts” which focuses on promoting an integrity-driven behaviour, especially in crisis times, and shared experiences on “Managing Conflicts of Interest” taking into account the operating specifics of Customs.  The ISC delegates were also informed of the latest WCO integrity-related activities and initiatives and they discussed, reviewed, and endorsed a new iteration of the WCO Integrity Development Guide.

The 20th session of the ISC was chaired by the Acting Chairperson Mr. Marcellin Djeuwo, Director of IT of Cameroon Customs. Mr. Ismail Nashid of Maldives Customs Administration, was elected as the Chairperson of the ISC, while Mr. Marcellin Djeuwo, was re-elected as the Vice Chairperson of the ISC.

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