World Customs Organization and Rotterdam Convention
The World Customs Organization (WCO) assigns specific Harmonized System (HS) customs codes to the individual chemicals or groups of chemicals listed in Annex III, and each Party is required to include the relevant HS codes for exported chemicals in the shipping documentation.
To increase awareness of the Rotterdam Convention, relevant information has been made available through the World Customs Organization training centres, customs enforcement network and website.
Green Customs Initiative and Rotterdam Convention
The Rotterdam Convention is also an active partner in the Green Customs Initiative (GCI) to prevent the illegal trade in environmentally-sensitive commodities and facilitation of the legal trade in these. Its objective is to enhance the capacity of customs and other relevant enforcement personnel to monitor and facilitate the legal trade and to detect and prevent illegal trade in environmentally-sensitive commodities covered by the relevant conventions and multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). These include ozone depleting substances (ODS), toxic chemical products, hazardous wastes, endangered species and living-modified organisms. This is achieved through awareness-raising on all the relevant international agreements as well as provision of assistance and tools to the enforcement community. The GCI carries out technical assistance activities to increase customs officers’ awareness of the link between MEAs such as the Rotterdam Convention and customs-related issues.
Customs training activities under the Rotterdam Convention
Training activities organized by the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat targeting customs authorities are carried out through the Green Customs Initiative (GCI). It is recognized that, to implement the provisions of the Rotterdam Convention, an adequate exchange of information is essential between those responsible for implementation of the Convention at the national level and national customs officials. National legislation that gives customs officials the appropriate authority to operate effectively is needed as well.
Since working with customs authorities is a crosscutting exercise, cooperation on customs issues provides an excellent opportunity for synergies with the Secretariats of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions, especially under the GCI. The Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention also cooperates bilaterally with the WCO on the training of customs officers organized by the WCO.
National and subregional meetings on the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention stress the importance of including customs authorities in the development of national action plans for the implementation of the Convention and the need for a mechanism to facilitate the flow of information between designated national authorities and customs authorities.
Recognizing that different countries may apply different approaches to the integration of customs officials in the implementation Convention at the national level, the experiences of Jamaica and Switzerland may provide useful working examples of the roles that customs officers can play in the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention at the national level. The case studies are focused on procedures, information resources and key players at the national level.