Global Witness was appointed by the 1999 Consultative Group – a group of Cambodia’s financial donors – to ensure Cambodia’s compliance with promised forestry reforms. The International Monetary Fund’s reengagement and the World Bank’s new Structural Adjustment Credit were conditional on the signing of the deal.

The deal gives Global Witness a direct formal feed into the enforcement process, and full access to the Cambodian Government’s timber related and concession records. “This is a great day for us,” said Patrick Alley of Global Witness. “If we report forest crime, the Cambodian Government has to act. This means there is a chance that illegal loggers might actually get arrested.”

The Cambodian Government’s actions on forestry reform will be reported to Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, through the Council of Ministers, and to the quarterly meetings of the international donors.

“Forestry reform has a long way to go, but the fact that the Cambodian Government has accepted us, a thorn in their side for years, as the monitor, is an indication of the new mood in government. Impunity has always been the problem in the forestry sector, so this deal will test the Cambodian Government’s resolve, because they have to investigate and take action on reported crimes,” said Alley. “And a lot of the perpetrators have friends in high places.”

The independent monitoring role is part of the recently established Forest Crime Monitoring Unit, also made up of inspection teams from the Forestry Department and the Ministry of Environment, both of whom will receive the bulk of the funds.

The $140,000 deal, funded in the first year by Britain’s DFID and AusAid, channelled through the FAO, will allow Global Witness to open an office in Phnom Penh and take on local staff. “We will simply do more of what we already do,” said Alley. “The $140,000 funds the Cambodian office: we will continue to fund ourselves, and therefore, around 66% of total project costs.”

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