Experimentalist Interactions: FLEGT and the Transnational Timber Legality Regime

48 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2019

Date Written: June 18, 2019


This paper analyzes the interactions between the European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative and other components of the emerging transnational timber legality regime, both public and private. It examines how far, and through what institutional channels and mechanisms, these interactions are producing a joined-up transnational regime, based on a shared normative commitment to combat illegal logging and cooperative efforts to implement and enforce it. The paper argues that the experimentalist architecture of the EU FLEGT initiative has fostered productive, mutually reinforcing interactions both with public timber legality regulation in other consumer countries and with private certification schemes. But this emerging regime remains highly polyarchic, with broad scope for autonomous initatives by NGOs and private service providers, along with national governments, international organizations, and multi-donor partnerships. Hence horizontal integration and coordination within it depend on a series of institutional mechanisms, some of which are distinctively experimentalist, while others can also be found in more conventional regimes. These mechanisms include cross-referencing and reciprocal endorsement of rules and standards; mutual learning and peer review through information pooling and comparison of enforcement approaches; public oversight and joint assessment of private certification and legality verification schemes; and the “penalty default” effect of public regulation in consumer countries, which have pushed both exporting countries and transnational firms to comply with the norms and procedures of the emerging transnational regime. The findings of this paper thus provide robust new evidence for the claim advanced in previous work that a joined-up transnational regime can be assembled piece-by-piece under polyarchic conditions through coordinated learning from decentralized experimentation, without a hegemonic power to impose common global rules.

Keywords: timber legality, forest governance, experimentalist governance, transnational governance, public regulation, private certification, European Union, FLEGT

Suggested Citation

Zeitlin, Jonathan and Overdevest, Christine, Experimentalist Interactions: FLEGT and the Transnational Timber Legality Regime (June 18, 2019). Amsterdam Centre for European Studies Research Paper No. 2019/04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3406065 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3406065

Jonathan Zeitlin (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Amsterdam Roeterseilandcampus
Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
Amsterdam, 1018 WV

Christine Overdevest

University of Florida ( email )

PO Box 117165, 201 Stuzin Hall
Gainesville, FL 32610-0496
United States

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