Corruption, bribery, money laundering, illegal logging, and other illegal acts referred to as “forest crimes” are rampant in the forest and land-use sectors of many developing nations. The consequences are devastating: social conflict, injustice, poverty, economic stagnation and carbon emissions. Fighting forest crime is therefore imperative. However, too often local and international environmental laws fail to address the root of forest crime.
Ensuring legal liability for forest crime is one of the most effective means of protecting forests. Environmental laws are not the only recourse. When forest governance and legal systems are weak in one nation, it is possible to harness the power of generally applicable, extra-territorial laws of another nation in order to combat illegal activity. Not only do many such laws, such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, have considerable reach and power, but political and legal conditions for using them to combat forest crime are also improving.
Climate Advisers is a global leader in strategic litigation. It is one of the few environmental organizations that employs former government prosecutors (who are expert in a wide range of criminal and human rights laws) as well as legal experts in anti-corruption laws and financial crimes. Over the past few years, Climate Advisers has piloted strategic litigation in the United States to combat forest crime in Indonesia, Peru and Colombia.
Strategic litigation is an immediately accessible remedy to enforcement and governance problems faced in the forest and land use sectors of many developing countries to hold forest criminals accountable.