Logistics Support: Customs facilitation

The increase of natural or other sudden onset disasters has highlighted the need to improve the efficiency of the international community's contributions to humanitarian operations. OCHA, in close cooperation with UN agencies and the international community, has initiated several activities aimed at improving some key disaster response tools. One of these initiatives is to ensure application of simplified Customs procedures in order to speed up the delivery of international humanitarian assistance.

Consequently, OCHA initiated the development of a Model Agreement (available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian) between the United Nations and a State/Government concerning measures to expedite the import, export and transit of relief consignments and possessions of relief personnel in the event of disasters and emergencies.

So far OCHA signed the customs agreement with the governments of Belarus, Bhutan, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Liberia, Mali, Moldova, Nepal and Uzbekistan.

The Model Customs Facilitation Agreement is intended to serve as a basis for the development of practical working tools on a bilateral, UN - particular country level. It has several specific features that make it extremely suited for that purpose, in particular:

  • Only internationally recommended Customs facilitation measures are included in the text of the agreement;
  • The agreement aims at speeding up and simplifying existing national Customs clearance procedures, and not at their abolishment;
  • No new privileges and/or immunities are foreseen and/or requested for any of the participants in the UN-led humanitarian emergency assistance operations and full compliance with national regulations is required from them.

Seminar on the role of customs in international disaster relief operations in Asia, Bangkok

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) have planned a series of regional seminars to discuss best practice related to customs and humanitarian relief.

The first of these regional seminars was held in Bangkok, in May 2012.  It brought together relevant experts within the Asia Pacific region, including customs officials, national disaster management organisations, and representatives of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and NGOs.  The seminar provided a forum to foster better understanding of the relevant international norms and systems, the key challenges, and the steps all can take to improve collaboration. Click here for the Full Report.

Related Documents

Customs Model Agreement  [English - French - Spanish - Arabic - Russian


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