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WCO Relationships with Universities (PICARD Programme)

The WCO Professional Standards were first developed in the framework of the WCO’s PICARD Programme (Partnerships in Customs Academic Research and Development) that was officially launched in 2006.

The PICARD Programme’s aim was the creation of a cooperation framework for Customs administrations, practitioners and academic institutions to work closely together on two main objectives;

  • advancement of Customs-related academic research, and
  • promotion of Customs professionalism.

These objectives are considered fundamental to Customs reform and modernization agenda.

To further advance Customs professionalism, in 2008, the WCO launched “Professional Standards for Customs Operational and Senior Managers,” as a foundation for Customs professional education at bachelor’s and master’s levels.

Since then, many new factors have impacted on the working processes of Customs officials and were drivers for the further review of the Standards; these included;

  • the increasing role of new technologies;
  • need for effective data analysis to inform better border management;
  • opportunities that flow from stronger stakeholder engagement;
  • increasing administrative cooperation at national and international levels; and
  • the heightened role of Customs in securing the business environment.

In this regard, the WCO Secretariat initiated work on reviewing the PICARD Professional Standards, resulting in the publication of the WCO Professional Standards 2019.

The Standards represent a framework against which Customs-related academic programmes can be designed and formally recognized by the WCO in accordance with the WCO Recognition Guidelines.  Currently, 26 courses in 16 Academic institutions have been officially recognized as meeting the PICARD Professional Standards. 

In addition, the Standards can be used as a framework against which in-house training programmes, recruitment strategies and job profiles can be designed or further developed, as well as by the private sector in designing standards for their own Customs professionals.

While maintaining the original structure, the update version of the PICARD Professional Standards include;

  • the introduction of an additional purpose aimed at both private and public sectors;
  • a general simplification and reorganization of the Standards; and
  • the rewording of the Requirements for Strategic and Operational Managers.

Stronger emphasis has also been placed on emerging technologies; risk management; security and facilitation; coordinated border management; and international supply chains.