Terms of Reference for the Council

Confirmed by the Council - June 2005

Established : 1950 (Inaugural Session 1953).

Duration : Unspecified.

1. Mandate

The Council was established by the Convention establishing a Customs Co-operation Council, with the aim of securing the highest degree of harmony and uniformity in the Customs systems of Member Governments, and especially to study the problems inherent in the development and improvement of Customs techniques and Customs legislation in connection therewith. It is the supreme body of the World Customs Organization and, as such, it takes the final decisions regarding the Organization’s work and activities. All WCO bodies report to the Council. The Council operates with administrative support provided by the WCO Secretariat.

2. Membership

Each Member of the WCO has the right to be represented in the Council.

3. Purpose and Scope

The functions of the Council, as stipulated in Article III of the Convention establishing a Customs Co-operation Council, are to :

(a) Study all questions relating to co-operation in Customs matters which the Contracting Parties agree to promote in conformity with the general purposes of the present Convention;

(b) Examine the technical aspects, as well as the economic factors related thereto, of Customs systems with a view to proposing to its Members practical means of attaining the highest possible degree of harmony and uniformity;

(c) Prepare draft Conventions and amendments to Conventions and recommend their adoption by interested Governments;

(d) Make recommendations to ensure the uniform interpretation and application of the Conventions concluded as a result of its work and, to this end, to perform such functions as may be expressly assigned to it in those Conventions in accordance with the provisions thereof;

(e) Make recommendations, in a conciliatory capacity, for the settlement of disputes concerning the interpretation or application of those Conventions;

(f) Ensure the circulation of information regarding Customs regulations and procedures;

Terms of Reference for the Council

(g) On it own initiative or on request, to furnish to interested Governments information or advice on Customs matters and make recommendations thereon;

(h) Co-operate with other inter-governmental organizations as regards matters within its competence.

4. Key Deliverables

While the functions identified by the founding Convention remain broadly relevant, global developments in trade, transport and technology have had a significant effect on the activities of the Organization over the years. Today, the Council’s key deliverables are :

(a) To examine and, where appropriate, approve the work done by the Organization’s technical bodies, including the preparation or amendment of WCO instruments;

(b) To review, on the basis of written and oral reports by the Secretary General, the progress made during the previous twelve months with the implementation of the Organization’s rolling, 3-year Strategic Plan;

(c) To direct the future work of the Organization, in particular by examining, finalizing and adopting the Strategic Plan, which is prepared each year by the Secretariat and submitted to the Council after preliminary examination by the Policy Commission;

(d) To examine and decide upon such policy issues as may be submitted to it by the Policy Commission;

(e) To interpret the provisions of the founding Convention;

(f) To provide a forum for the high-level exchange of information, views and experiences on topical Customs issues;

(g) To take budgetary and financial decisions on the basis of recommendations submitted by the Finance Committee (in particular, acquitting the Secretary General of his financial management responsibilities for the previous financial year, taking note of the Audit Report and the follow-up action taken, appointing Auditors, and adopting a Decision concerning budgetary and financial provisions for the forthcoming financial year, including the scale of Members’ contributions);

(h) To adopt amendments to the Secretariat Staff Regulations and Staff Rules;

(i) To elect the Council Chairperson and Vice-Chairpersons, the members of the Policy Commission, and the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and members of the Finance Committee;

(j) To appoint the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General of the Organization, and nominate Directors for appointment by the Secretary General;

(k) To adopt the Organization’s Calendar of Meetings for the forthcoming year.

5. Means of Operation

The Council, under its Chairperson who is elected from among the delegates,

examines issues on the basis of Reports on meetings of the Policy Commission, the Finance Committee and the various technical Committees, and documents prepared by the Secretariat.

Article VII of the Convention requires the Council to meet at least twice a year, but since 1966 the two annual sessions have been held concurrently, almost always in the month of June. The annual sessions generally last three days (with two days set aside for the conduct of formal business, and one day for discussions on topical Customs issues).

Each Member of the WCO nominates one delegate and one or more alternates to be its representatives on the Council. These representatives may be assisted by advisers (Article II of the Convention). Each active Member has one vote, except that a Member does not have a vote on any question relating to the interpretation, application or amendment of any WCO Convention in force which does not apply to that Member (Rule 21 of the Rules of Procedure of the Council).

Representatives of non-Member Governments or of international organizations may be invited to attend Council sessions as observers. They may, at the discretion of the Chairperson, participate in the discussions but not vote.

Representatives of a simple majority of the Members of the Organization constitute a quorum (Rule 20 of the Rules of Procedure of the Council). Decisions are taken by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the Members present at the meeting and entitled to vote (Rule 21 of the Rules of Procedure), except in the case of decisions concerning the Rules of Procedure, where a majority of not less than two-thirds of all the Members is required (Article VI of the Convention).

6. Resources Required

The WCO Secretariat is responsible for making the arrangements and preparations for the Council sessions, providing professional, administrative and technical services during the sessions, and performing follow-up tasks after the sessions, including in particular the drafting of the Minutes.

All Members are required to bear the expenses (travel and accommodation) of their own delegations to the Council (Article XII of the Convention).

If the sessions are held away from WCO Headquarters, at the invitation of a Member, then that Member will normally be required to meet the additional costs which the Organization has incurred by reason of accepting that invitation (e.g., hiring meeting facilities, travel and accommodation expenses of Secretariat officials attending the sessions, etc.).