Liberia, EU Hold 5th JIC Meeting

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— On progress under legal timber trade agreement

The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between the Government of Liberia (GoL) and the European Union (EU) will hold its 5th Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) meeting in Monrovia from April 5 to 7, 2017, at the Monrovia City Hall, the European Union Delegation to Liberia has announced.

The VPA, a bilateral Agreement between the GoL and the EU was negotiated from 2009 -2011 and ratified by Liberia in 2013. This Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) aims to promote sustainable forest management by putting in place systems to verify the legality of timber, as well as strengthen forest governance.

“Since the ratification of the VPA, Liberia has made significant marks in managing its forest resources. In fact, the Country is currently at the implementation phase and gradually moving towards FLEGT Licensing,” the EU Delegation said in a press release.

The JIC, which comprises the Liberia Implementation Committee (LIC) and the EU representatives, seeks to provide oversight of the implementation of the Agreement. Hence, the LIC on the VPA comprises representatives from Ministries, Agencies and Commission (MACs) of GoL, the private sector, as well as civil society.

During the course of these three days, the JIC will examine progress in capacity building being carried out with Government, private sector and civil society stakeholders in the forest sector to enable them meet their obligations under the Agreement. Progress in the development of systems to verify the legality of Liberia’s timber exports will also be reviewed.

As part of the activities for the meeting, EU Ambassador Tiina Intelmann and guests, along with a team of Liberian journalists, will tour a sawmill, meet with the private sector and forest dependents in Grand Bassa and Rivercess Counties respectively. This trip will also assess the impact of the financial benefits accrued from forest operations in affected communities on people who live around the fringes of the forest.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. We welcome oversight, because evidently this regime wants to auction off any thing of value in Liberia. Conversely, one hopes that the move isn’t another facade to sign more binding agreements that will make the country a loser. For with double – speak the order of the day, no one knows what to believe.

  2. You are right to be suspicious of the Liberia Voluntary Partnership Agreement which has been in place since 2011. Under this Agreement Liberian logs exports must be tested against Liberia’s forestry, environmental and labour legislation. The National Forestry Reform Law (NFRL) was passed in 2006. This was supposed to prevent the abuses that went on during the civil war when log exports funded the purchase of weapons. Under a section of the NFRL known as the Debarment List, the companies and individuals responsible for the trade in blood timber should have been identified and barred from any involvement in the Liberian forestry sector. Since the NFRL came into effect more than 10 years ago the Debarment List has not been developed and there is a belief that many of the blood timber merchants have been given new logging concessions and licences. What’s more, key parts of the environmental and labour legislation (such as minimum pay and conditions, opportunities for Liberians) are not being implemented. The Liberia VPA has sold Liberia and its people down the river. You, the Liberian people and your valuable forests are the losers. The Liberian Government and particularly the Forestry Development Agency are the only winners. All the while international partners to the VPA such as the EU and the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) sit on their hands and do nothing to make sure all Liberia’s log exports are fully compliant with the country’s key legislation.

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