|Resource Extraction Monitoring
Investigating law enforcement in the field to spark governance reform
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Resource Extraction Monitoring is an organisation specialised in the independent monitoring of law enforcement and natural resources extraction. We have operated for over a decade managing from a UK HQ short-term investigations (Liberia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, CAR, Benin) and long-term projects from three REM offices in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo. REM investigates in the field cases of illegal activity, then follows their progress through administrative and judicial systems. We analyse the illegal forest activities documented and Government action in order to propose solutions to tackle them more efficiently, and participate to the implementation of these recommendations through continuous work with those concerned.
Independent monitoring is a systematic audit-style approach which enables good governance of state-owned natural resources and compliance with resource-extraction laws, treaties, and contracts. Founded in 2003 by experts with over 15 years of monitoring experience, REM bridges the gaps between governments, environmental and human rights NGOs and local communities, donors and the private sector by providing objective and timely information on natural resource allocation and use.
REM is not a lobbying organisation and has no political agenda, but we are pro-active in researching and presenting the issues of governance and transparency during project implementation. We recognise that good governance enables citizens to share more equitably in natural resource use whilst protecting those which they prefer to leave off-limits, and that compliance ensures a level playing ground for competing commercial interests.
While other organisations involved in monitoring the forest sector tend to focus mainly on forest cover through remote sensing, REM is unique in that it monitors on-the ground governance mechanisms and provides objective, site-specific and feasible recommendations for long-term policy and enforcement improvements. Formal contracts with the recipient governments, endorsed by the donor community, provide leverage and ensure REM access to necessary information as well as providing mechanisms to increase government accountability.
Independent Monitoring of Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (IM-FLEG) has been developed considerably by REM in recent years and this is in part due to the long-term training and practical tools we provided through past projects to Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Cameroon, the Republic of Congo and also in DRC, Gabon and CAR. Given this increase in capacity, REM has proposed to remove itself as the lead organisation in the sector to allow this new capacity to continue to develop and take on more responsibility. REM’s role will become one of technical support and provision of strategic guidance in the development of new projects in the Congo Basin.
With the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) now in effect and a number of Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) signed and progressing through negotiations, both producer countries and EU based enforcement agencies will have an increasing need for reliable and accurate information. This would not appear to be the time to decrease the tried and tested method of Independent Monitoring that has been developed by REM of the last 10 years. With this is mind and through this proposal, REM will continue to provide strategic guidance and technical support at a distance to the regional and their national partners which will be taking on the Independent Monitoring role in the near future. The objective of this activity is to ensure a smooth transition of responsibility to local organisations and to not diminish the flow of reliable information to the broad range of stakeholders that require it.
In recent case studies in Belgium and France, REM reports have been pivotal in leading to European based investigations into the legality of timber entering into the EU. In each case, despite the producer country ministries responsible agreeing that there was illegality, the timber was passed into Europe. These actions have brought some doubts over the seriousness of Member States to implement the new legislation. It is clear that procedures and standards for the determination of legality will have to be devised for EUTR implementing agencies. REM will contribute to the discussions around this process, bringing its field experience from producer countries to the table in dialogue with those responsible for this difficult task, and helping them develop appropriate tools to enforce EUTR.
To build on both of the above activities, REM will also explore the innovative
use of technology to improve the quality and availability of data concerning
forest logging operations. The objective here is to increase the transparency
of forestry activities in remote areas to both the national law enforcement
departments and to enable data sharing with EUTR CAs. This activity will
build on previous feasibility studies carried through REM led Independent
REM Cambridge Office, UK
Valérie Vauthier, Director and IM-FLEG expert
Our direct partners
FLAG (Sub-regional CSO based in Cameroon)
REM promotes a constructive approach involving each of the following participants:
Where appropriate REM works with governments to help them develop monitoring systems for law enforcement, which brings international credibility to efforts undertaken. The transparency required in a working partnership and the recording of any denial of access to information is powerful evidence in and of itself. As always, when working with local officials we believe our work is most effective when we provide our partners with the tools and expertise to help themselves. REM supports improved law enforcement but law enforcement itself remains a function of governments. REM also sees as crucial that ownership of any improvement in law enforcement as well as monitoring processes is built within government.
The International Donor Community
The International Donor Community formulates programmes in partnership with local governments but often lack detailed information on law enforcement and governance. The Resource Extraction Monitoring approach can fill this information gap to help target funding more strategically. Through our monitoring activities REM enables improved governance and transparency and support the achievements of donor programme objectives.
The Private Sector
REM recognises that illegal trading in natural resources leads to the corruption of the level and fairly competitive marketplace and steals revenue not only from the state but from legal commercial interests. The private sector benefits from strong governance because compliance is rendered easier to maintain and companies need not waste money fighting corruption or damaging their market image. REM values the experience of the private sector in dealing with administrative systems and the issues of governance that arise in carrying out their activities.
Nobody benefits more from good governance than the public. As recent international investigations have demonstrated, states are losing enormous amounts of revenue through illegal extraction of natural resources. Corruption is difficult if not impossible to document and prove. REM's approach provides a systematic documentation of processes in areas where opportunities for corruption arise and provides recommendations to reduce them. The mere presence of an independent monitor often reduces opportunities for corruption. Information is published and helps the public understand the mechanics of corruption so that they can counter it effectively.
REM works with NGOs who seek to curtail illegality and human and environmental rights abuses. Often their independent investigations provide crucial data for in-country monitoring; REM works to corroborate the data of all groups working in a given space and to make their findings available to local law enforcement and policy-making officials. Monitoring findings can be used by other NGOs to support calls for improved governance. REM provides GIS training and monitoring techniques to increase local capacity. Where there is political space monitoring should be implemented by local NGOs, however they may need support in the early stages.
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