Corruption in the Transnational Framework for Prevention of Illegal Logging: The Limitations of Destination Country Laws in the Pacific Context
Macquarie Law School Working Paper 001 (2020) A version of this paper has been accepted in the New Zealand Yearbook of International Law (2021)
32 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2020 Last revised: 24 May 2021
Date Written: September 4, 2020
Illegal Logging is an issue of international concern with significant environmental, social, economic and political implications. In an effort to combat illegal logging, destination countries around the world have enacted legislation criminalising the import of illegally harvested timber. These destination country laws require companies to conduct due-diligence before importing timber products, with penalties for non-compliance. When combined with efforts of the international community, certification bodies and civil society groups, these laws form part of a transnational framework to combat illegal logging. However, this framework relies heavily on laws in source countries where timber is harvested. The framework also fails to account for the complex social, economic and political dynamics that affect source country practices. This raises concerns for the effectiveness of destination country laws and due-diligence requirements in particular. This article explores the challenges and limitations of destination country laws, focusing on the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 (Cth) and using the source country case study of Solomon Islands. The article articulates the social, economic and political dynamics that shape the operation of forestry laws in Solomon Islands. These source country dynamics have significant but under-researched implications for the effectiveness of destination country laws. The article argues that reliance on source country definitions of legality and the challenges of validating the nature and origins of complex timber products, create significant corruption risks. Corrupt practices may be used to circumvent existing legal obligations. In some circumstances, destination country laws may even create incentives to engage in corrupt conduct or weaken source country legal frameworks, with harmful implications for forests and forest reliant societies. Addressing these risk and challenges will be essential for the success of the transnational framework to combat illegal logging, with implications for corporate due-diligence obligations in other areas of international concern, including modern slavery and foreign bribery.
Keywords: corruption, illegal logging, destination country law, regulation, corporate compliance, forestry governance
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation