Integrity can be described as the behaviour of individuals and an organization to follow the rule of law. The ICC Customs Guidelines define two forms of integrity or the lack thereof. The first deals with misbehaving individuals in an otherwise sound organization. The basis for this type of corruption is more likely to be a character defect, some urgent, large financial need or, sometimes, fear induced by threats of physical violence. The second form is of a largely misbehaving organization in which sound individuals are the rare exception. This form of corruption is usually a reflection of a certain cultural and social environment. The lack of integrity, however, involves two sides, the one that receives and the one that gives. Fighting corruption therefore requires action on both sides, on the Customs as well as on the private sector side.

Problem statement

The WCO Revised Arusha Declaration lists among others the following adverse effects of the lack of integrity in Customs:

  • revenue leakage and fraud,
  • a reduction in foreign investment,
  • increased costs of trade,
  • the maintenance of barriers to international trade and economic growth,
  • a reduction in public trust and confidence in government institutions.

Implementation guidance

Countries that have an organizational problem with integrity require a holistic reform and modernization programme in order to properly fight corruption. The Revised Arusha Declaration of the WCO requires Customs administrations to adopt a national Customs Integrity Programme. Such a programme should include, among others, the use of electronic declaration and payment procedures to abolish cash payments and to reduce direct encounters between Customs officials and traders during the clearance process. Customs should also develop a code of conduct based on the WCO Model and display this code of conduct at all Customs offices.
The UN Convention against Corruption and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention are addressing the integrity problem at the country and government level. The ICC Anti-Corruption Commission has developed the ICC Rules of Conduct as a tool for self-regulation of enterprises.

Additional information (references, examples, etc.)

Further useful information is provided by the WCO on its integrity web pages. and by the ICC Anti-Corruption Commission.