TGI Forum » TBGI Working Paper 15

TBGI Working Paper 15

Legality, Criminality and Agency Beyond the State: Forest Governance, Illegal Logging and Associated Trade

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Lorraine Elliott



This paper examines the disconnect between the literature on and practice of legality verification (LV) in the forest sector and what would seem to be a logical extension into the literature on and responses to forest crime and, more specifically, transnational criminality associated with the trade in illegally logged timber. The apparently logical overlap between these two areas of endeavour arises because both are dealing with aspects of supply chains or chains of custody involving raw timber, forest products or timber products more generally. The disconnect, I suggest here, arises because of a lack of ‘joined up thinking’ between the two themes that are central to forest law enforcement and governance (FLEG) – that is, enforcement on the one hand and governance on the other. The former is frequently perceived to be relevant mainly to issues of criminality and the development of coercive responses by the state, the latter to normative standards and rules for defining legality and implementing verification in which actors other than the state have assumed a substantial role. The second purpose of this paper, then, is to explore the role of ‘agents beyond the state’ in the spaces of transnational legality verification and forest law enforcement. It does so as an initial response to the call from Biermann et al ‘to document these various forms of governance through which actors exercise agency [beyond the state] and … to better understand the conditions for the emergence of agency at different levels and within different architectures.’


Forest management, legality verification, criminality, non-governmental organizations