WCO supports the Pau Declaration by G5 Sahel countries’ Heads of State and the French President

16 enero 2020

On 13 January 2020, the Pau Summit of the G5 Sahel member countries’ Heads of State and the French president Macron took place in the south of France. The objective of the Summit was to discuss the security situation in the Sahel-Sahara Strip that has been deteriorating throughout the past years. The Summit resulted in the adoption of the Joint Declaration of the Heads of State that defined the new framework, ‘’the Coalition for the Sahel’’ bringing together France, other involved countries and organizations. The framework will contain four pillars covering the areas of I) the fight against terrorism, II) strengthening the military capacities of the states in the region, III) support for the return of state and administrations on the territory and iv) development assistance. In particular, Pillar III on support for the return of state and administrations on the territory includes the ‘’training and deployment of staff, including at local level, in the areas of civil administration, internal security (police, gendarmerie, customs) and justice’’.

The World Customs Organization has been long advocating the role of Customs at fragile borders and a comprehensive research programme with the similar title was launched three years ago. ‘’Having witnessed the situation where Customs administrations were obliged to abandon their positions at borders in a number of countries has led to dire consequences both from the security and trade perspective’’, said the WCO Secretary General, Dr Kunio Mikuriya. ‘’Through the research and subsequent action we managed to demonstrate the value added of Customs in these fragile areas and, based on that, we launched a global advocacy and concrete projects in this area. For this reason, the WCO welcomes the Pau Declaration that emphasizes the critical need for a strong Customs presence at fragile borders’’, he added.

In December 2015, the WCO Policy Commission adopted the Punta Cana Resolution addressing the Customs role and contribution to border security and counter terrorism efforts. Throughout the last four years, the WCO has been heavily involved in supporting a number of security initiatives in West and Central Africa including the WCO research programme on the role of Customs and trade at fragile borders; the Securité par Collaboration (SPC ++) that is the initiative of the Nigerian Customs presented at the Regional Conference of Directors General of the West and Central Africa Region in April 2016 (the project currently unites five countries in the region and is aimed at expanding further);  and the West and Central Africa Security Project aimed at countering the threat posed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) precursors that is to be finalized in 2020. In October 2019, the WCO Secretary General visited the fragile borders between Niger and Burkina Faso to demonstrate the WCO’s full support and commitment in this field.

Under the umbrella of the West and Central Africa Security Project, the WCO hosted a Security Conference entitled, ‘African perspective on security challenges’ at its headquarters in Brussels. The Conference which took place from 11 to 12 December 2019, brought together more than 150 delegates from more than 50 countries and organizations to discuss the security challenges impacting the work of Customs in Africa. Taking into consideration the outcomes of the WCO Security Conference and building upon the recognition of this critical matter in the Pau Declaration, WCO stands ready to continue enhancing the capabilities of the Customs administrations at fragile borders with the support of key development partners.