The Basel Committee, established by the central-bank Governors of the Group of Ten countries at the end of 1974, meets regularly four times a year. It has four main working groups which also meet regularly.
The Committee's members come from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Countries are represented by their central bank and also by the authority with formal responsibility for the prudential supervision of banking business where this is not the central bank. The present chairman of the Committee is Mr Stefan Ingves, Governor of Sveriges Riksbank, who succeeded Mr Nout Wellink on 1 July 2011.
The Committee does not possess any formal supranational supervisory authority, and its conclusions do not, and were never intended to, have legal force. Rather, it formulates broad supervisory standards and guidelines and recommends statements of best practice in the expectation that individual authorities will take steps to implement them through detailed arrangements - statutory or otherwise - which are best suited to their own national systems. In this way, the Committee encourages convergence towards common approaches and common standards without attempting detailed harmonisation of member countries' supervisory techniques.
The Committee reports to the central bank Governors and Heads of Supervision of its member countries. It seeks their endorsement for its major initiatives. These decisions cover a very wide range of financial issues. One important objective of the Committee's work has been to close gaps in international supervisory coverage in pursuit of two basic principles: that no foreign banking establishment should escape supervision; and that supervision should be adequate. To achieve this, the Committee has issued a long series of documents since 1975.
In 1988, the Committee decided to introduce a capital measurement system commonly referred to as the Basel Capital Accord. This system provided for the implementation of a credit risk measurement framework with a minimum capital standard of 8% by end-1992. Since 1988, this framework has been progressively introduced not only in member countries but also in virtually all other countries with internationally active banks. In June 1999, the Committee issued a proposal for a revised Capital Adequacy Framework. The proposed capital framework consists of three pillars: minimum capital requirements, which seek to refine the standardised rules set forth in the 1988 Accord; supervisory review of an institution's internal assessment process and capital adequacy; and effective use of disclosure to strengthen market discipline as a complement to supervisory efforts. Following extensive interaction with banks, industry groups and supervisory authorities that are not members of the Committee, the revised framework was issued on 26 June 2004. This text serves as a basis for national rule-making and for banks to complete their preparations for the new framework's implementation.
Over the past few years, the Committee has moved more aggressively to promote sound supervisory standards worldwide. In close collaboration with many jurisdictions which are not members of the Committee, in 1997 it developed a set of " Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision", which provides a comprehensive blueprint for an effective supervisory system. To facilitate implementation and assessment, the Committee in October 1999 developed the " Core Principles Methodology". The Core Principles and the Methodology were revised recently and released in October 2006.
In response to the financial crisis of 2008, the Committee and its oversight body, the Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision, have developed a reform programme to address the lessons of the crisis, which delivers on the mandates for banking sector reforms established by the G20 at their 2009 Pittsburgh summit. Collectively, the new global standards to address both firm-specific and broader, systemic risks have been referred to as "Basel III".
In order to enable a wider group of countries to be associated with the work being pursued in Basel, the Committee has always encouraged contacts and cooperation between its members and other banking supervisory authorities. It circulates to supervisors throughout the world published and unpublished papers. In many cases, supervisory authorities in non-member countries have seen fit publicly to associate themselves with the Committee's initiatives. Contacts have been further strengthened by International Conferences of Banking Supervisors (ICBS) which take place every two years. The last ICBS was held in Singapore in the autumn of 2010.
The Committee's Secretariat is provided by the Bank for International Settlements in Basel. The 17 person Secretariat is mainly staffed by professional supervisors on temporary secondment from member institutions. In addition to undertaking the secretarial work for the Committee and its many expert sub-committees, it stands ready to give advice to supervisory authorities in all countries.