Briefing / Dec. 5, 1999

IFM in Cambodia (1999-2003)

Global Witness was appointed the official independent monitor of Cambodia's forestry sector in 1999 and played this role until 2003. These pages contain information produced during the implementation of the project. The Forest Crimes Monitoring Unit was established following the 1999 Consultative Group meeting to develop the Cambodian government's capacity to detect and suppress illegal logging, and to provide the international community with an independent oversight of this process, through the appointment of Global Witness as an Independent Monitor.

The FCMU consisted of three components:

  • An office in the Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DFW), known as the Forest Crime Monitoring Office (FCMO) that monitored forest crimes in production forests.
  • An office in the Ministry of Environment, known as the Department of Inspection (DI) that monitored forest crimes in protected areas.
  • An independent monitor. Global Witness' role during the implementation of the project was to independently monitor the performance of the above agencies.

In theory, the two government offices operated parallel information tracking systems. Their provincial and district offices were expected to feed information, on a monthly basis, into the monitoring units. This information was to have been inputted into a computerised case tracking system, resulting in a series of 'open' cases which the Cambodian government was committed to take action on.

However, during the whole implementation of the project, there were major problems related to the lack of cooperation shown by the FCMO to the Independent Monitor and the DI, together with the failure by DFW to report any illegal activities by the concession companies. The vast majority of cases against concessionaires were reported by Global Witness and again the follow-up by DFW was disappointing; in all but one of the cases they failed to take appropriate action against the company involved.

In April 2003, the Cambodian government terminated Global Witness' role as the official Independent Monitor, breaching the World Bank conditions for further disbursement of the Bank's Structural Adjustment Credit to Cambodia. We continue to work on the country and are still committed to ensure that Cambodia's forests are managed for the benefit of all, not just a powerful few.