The RSG was established in June 2004 to act as a dynamic steering group to the Heads of Customs Conference (HoCC). It was intended to be “a small well-focused group of managers responsible for policy development and strategic direction from the customs administrations in the WCO East and Southern Africa region”.
Membership of the RSG is restricted to Customs managers from the active Members in the region, nominated by the respective Heads of Customs Administrations for their expertise, competence and ability to articulate the interests of the region and its membership. The Executive Director of the RCBC is an ex officio member of the RSG.
The WCO Council Regional Vice Chair, the Ordinary Member of the Policy Commission, Finance Committee representative, Audit Representative and any other member holding a similar position in the WCO Council or a position created by the HoCC shall nominate one delegate and one or more alternates to be its representatives on the RSG. In the interest of ensuring that the RSG reflects the level of economic development, geographic and linguistic diversity of the region, and the need to make use of regional expertise, other interested active members of the HoCC may be invited to join the RSG. The delegates and alternates may be assisted by experts. Nominations of delegates and alternates shall be made to the Chairperson of the RSG by Members.
The following may participate in the RSG as observers:
- Representatives of the World Customs Organization Secretariat
- The Head of the WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for East and Southern Africa
- Invited representatives of regional and international organizations, regional and international private sector bodies
- A member of the WCOESA region who is not a member of the RSG, invited to present a paper the member has submitted, to participate in discussions on a topic the member initiated, or to report on a meeting at which the member represented the region
- Persons invited to participate in expert capacity
- A member, not being a member of the RSG, who hosts a meeting of the RSG, during the RSG session
- In an ex officio capacity, former Chairpersons of the RSG who are still serving in their national customs administrations (for a maximum period of 2 years after ceasing to hold office as Chairperson)
3.Purpose and Scope
As a dynamic steering group to the Governing Council, the powers conferred upon the RSG by the Governing Council are delegated to the RSG insofar as they are necessary for the execution of its functions. All recommendations of the RSG shall be made to the Governing Council.
The RSG shall concern itself with broad policy questions relevant to the activities of WCO-ESA Member customs administrations. The Group shall initiate studies on customs policies, practices, and procedures with the objective of assisting the Governing Council achieve the broad aim of enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of Members in revenue collection, facilitation of international trade, safeguarding national security, protecting society and the environment, and compiling international trade statistics.
4. Key Deliverables
The key deliverables of the RSG are:
- To examine questions referred to it by the Regional Vice Chairperson or the World Customs Organization through the Regional Vice Chairperson, the HoCC, by individual members of the RSG or HoCC, by regional institutions, at the initiative of the RSG Chairperson or at the request of one of the Committees of the HoCC or other bodies;
- In regard to the questions thus examined, to make recommendations to the HoCC or the relevant Committee, or provide advice to the regional institutions and/or the regional Secretariat;
- Provide guidance and direction in the management of the RCBC and any other established regional institutions and make such detailed reports to the HoCC on the performance of the RCBC and other regional institutions as may be necessary to ensure the greatest levels of transparency and accountability;
- The RSG may also instruct the regional Secretariat, or a working group created for that purpose, to undertake further research or reflection on an issue, on the basis of which the RSG will consider the matter further;
- In case of urgency, the RSG is empowered to ask the regional Secretariat to take such action as the RSG deems necessary in the interests of the WCOESA and to report such decision to the next session of the HoCC;
- Ensure implementation of the decisions of the HoCC and provide a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the Regional Action Plan;
- Provide a forum for the exchange of views, experiences, and best practice approaches between the Member administrations in the region, and between Members and Members from other regions, international organizations and the private sector;
- Each May, to conduct a preliminary examination of the Strategic Plan which is prepared each year by the Secretariat, and is submitted first to the RSG and then to the HoCC;
- Each November, to examine a Programme Budget for the following financial year and make recommendations on the general budgetary orientations (including the total amount of the General Operating Expenses) to be presented to the HoCC for that year;
- Each November, to conduct a mid-year review of WCOESA activities, based on written and oral reports presented by the regional Secretariat and members, as a means of monitoring progress on behalf of the HoCC;
- Each May, to examine the Audit Report and make recommendations to the HoCC accordingly.
5. Means of Operation
The RSG, under its Chairperson examines issues on the basis of documents prepared by the Secretariat or, from time to time, Committee or working group reports or papers submitted by individual Members. Although the RSG is a “restricted membership” body, the working documents prepared for the sessions are circulated to all WCOESA Members for information.
The RSG’s Rules of Procedure specify that the RSG shall hold at least two sessions a year, one of which shall be held in conjunction with the annual HoCC. In practice, the RSG holds two 3-day sessions each year, one about half way through the financial year (almost always in November), and the other immediately before the annual HoCC sessions (almost always in May). The RSG may appoint virtual and ad hoc working groups to carry out specific assigned tasks and report to the RSG as and when necessary.
The RSG shall generally arrive at decisions by consensus. In exceptional circumstances, a vote may be taken, in which case each member delegation shall hold one vote.
6. Resources Required
The WCOESA Secretariat is responsible for making the arrangements and preparations for RSG sessions, providing professional, administrative and technical services during the sessions, and performing follow-up tasks after the sessions. When the RSG meets immediately before the annual HoCC sessions, its Report must be drafted during the session and adopted before the close of the session, so that it can be circulated to the HoCC on the following day. For the RSG’s mid-year session, the Report is prepared and circulated by the Secretariat a few weeks after the session.
All Members and observers are required to bear the travel and accommodation expenses of their own delegations to the RSG.
A Member hosting a session of the RSG will normally be required to meet the costs of hiring meeting facilities, transfers to and from airports and hotels, and other logistical expenses associated with the meeting.