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Independent Monitoring of Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (IM-FLEG)

IM-FLEG is a constructive and audit-style approach involving governments, the international donor community, the private sector and civil society. It is not a panacea aiming to solve problems in a chosen sector but a practical tool supporting work towards curbing illegal and unjust exploitation of natural resources. It is also an effective tool to support those governments officially committed to clean up a sector and acknowledged problems of corruption.

How it works

Independent Monitoring There are several approaches to monitoring natural resources, either focusing on Chain Of Custody systems to identify what is legal, or on the monitoring of resource extraction to identify what is illegal. Those approaches have merit in their own right and should be implemented in complement to achieve overall progress. Independent monitoring of governance, law enforcement and the extraction of natural resources (e.g. timber, minerals, oil) is a country-based partnership approach between relevant stakeholders, for example the recipient government, an active and engaged range of donors, civil society and an independent monitor organisation. REM, the independent monitor, operates in the field investigating and tracking cases of illegal activity through the administrative and judicial systems where this role cannot be fulfilled by national organisations (e.g. lack of political space or capacity).

Our approach increases transparency and can inform higher levels of government, the donor community and civil society of the real situation with respect to both illegal activities and the state of law enforcement. REM's proactive investigations and reporting promotes effective and just law enforcement. Where possible, REM seeks a partnership with governments as it is the main subject of monitoring of governance and law enforcement. This partnership, by engaging the subject is a constructive approach which can lead to more effective results than external monitoring alone, especially in the long-term.

Where REM undertakes external monitoring, it seeks partnerships with key stakeholders to complement their activities and participate in the overall set-up to provide a broadly credible framework of operations. REM operates using a similar approach putting objectivity, consultation processes with various stakeholders and systematic documentation against agreed set norms. In the section below, key processes remain the same with external monitoring.

Where there is partnership with the government...

In accordance with Terms of Reference agreed between the stakeholders, the monitor works with Ministerial systems by observing and reporting on law enforcement processes whilst at no stage carrying out any of those activities itself, i.e. law enforcement remains a function of the State. The status of the monitor allows it access to official documentation relevant to forest law enforcement which is essential to carry out meaningful documentation of activities. For example, in the forest sector, it is essential to have the map locating the exact area where a company is allowed to log in order to determine whether this company is logging in or outside its limits. The reference map used by the monitor must be the official one produced by Ministry of Forest including official stamps, in order to guide and give credibility to its investigation. This is one of the key stages allowing the follow-up of law enforcement systems.

The presence of the independent monitor in the field with government officials can lead to higher detection rates of illegal activities. Occasionally, the monitor also undertakes independent investigations in addition to those with government officials. This allows the monitor to compare its own findings to official findings and identify cases where there may be reluctance to enforce the law. Results of this comparison are transmitted to Ministry officials at highest levels, and allow an assessment of the real situation in view of the response obtained. This assessment is in turn, made available to the public according to a protocole supporting the government to take action. To inform its investigations, the monitor consults with a broad range of stakeholders including the private sector, local and international NGOs, the public and others.

Reports from the independent monitor are published. They provide detailed information of illegal activities by specific companies but also on administrative processes. The monitor tracks progress on cases uncovered and highlights how law enforcement procedures are applied. Where cases are not being processed through the justice system, the monitor researches and identifies possible reasons for blockages and solutions. The independent monitor provides suggestions where it notes that improvement could be considered to increase governance, transparency or efficiency in the law enforcement process, in order to support it.

The diagram below presents the functions of, and relationships between, key stakeholders involved at different levels in the framework of independent monitoring. It highlights what benefits the project can bring to each group (boxes), and the driving mechanisms of the project (arrows). Each project's Terms of Reference represents the political commitment that binds the government, donors and the monitor and locks them into the process.

Independent Monitoring Function and the relationship between stakeholders

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