Corruption in Customs is a threat to both the economic development and for the security of the affected countries. Inefficient and corrupt customs services are unable to ensure the equal treatment of importers and exporters in paying excise and customs duties and are likely to fail in stopping illicit contraband and trafficking in drugs, firearm and wildlife among others.

UNODC actively supports specific anti-corruption initiatives in customs and promotes the use of targeted corruption risk assessments in customs, by assisting States parties to identify actual corruption risks and scenarios, develop plans for addressing these risks and consequently implement these plans.

Integrity and accountability have been identified as key elements for the successful operation of customs services. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) as a global comprehensive anti-corruption instrument contains a list of possible practical measures to prevent corruption in its Chapter II. UNODC actively works to promote these measures in Customs including through programmes such as the Container Control Programme, a joint initiative of UNODC and WCO. Some of these measures include the development, introduction and implementation of conflict of interest regulations, measures to increase transparency of customs services, strengthening whistle-blower protection, as well as developing and introducing strong control environment with proper oversight and accountability measures.

UNODC has provided technical assistance to Customs services of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Namibia, Nicaragua and Panama.