Latest summary of the state of Vietnam’s VPA negotiations for Forestwatch Special, VPA update – from December 2015:
Official VPA status: in negotiation since 2007
The VPA process in Malaysia is still stalled (see previous VPA updates). In December a group of MEPs issued a motion denouncing the deteriorating human rights situation and in particular the crackdown on civil society activists, and requesting a debate on an urgent case of a breach of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Malaysia. VPA negotiations cannot go in the right direction unless the Government of Malaysia addresses these, and other, concerns.
There has been renewed controversy around the Netherlands’ procurement policy for Malaysian timber. In 2014, the Dutch government took the controversial step of accepting timber certified under the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) within its sustainable procurement rules for a limited period of two years, after which time the position would be reviewed again due to persistent concerns about the MTCS standard. In July this year, after a visit to Malaysia, the Dutch State Secretaries for Economic Affairs and Environment notified the House of Representatives that they will allow tropical hardwood from Malaysia with the MTCS label to enter the Dutch market without any conditions, and that Malaysian CSOs, including JOAS (a collective of Malaysian human rights and indigenous rights NGOs), were satisfied with the quality of the standards and the implementation of the MTCS. However JOAS has publicly denied its involvement and complained about the flawed or non-existent consultation process under the MTCS. JOAS also reaffirmed that ‘free and prior informed consent’ is not properly integrated into the MTCS guidelines and not correctly implemented in practice.