The concept of Independent Monitoring was conceived as a sub-component of the Ghana Timber Legality Assurance System (GhLAS) under the Ghana-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement. Article 10 of the VPA therefore provides for its establishment as follows;
- Ghana shall engage the services of an Independent Monitor (IM) in consultation with the Community for the purposes of the functions listed in Annex VI.
- The Independent Monitor shall be an entity that has no conflict of interest arising from any organisational or commercial relationship with the Community, or Ghana’s forest sector regulatory authorities, its licensing authority, any bodies engaged by its licensing authority to verify legal timber production, or any commercial operators in its forest sector.
- The Independent Monitor shall operate in accordance with a documented management structure and with published policies and procedures that meet internationally-accepted best practices defined by ISO 17021 (requirements for conformity assessment bodies) and ISO 19011 (guidelines for auditing procedures) or equivalent standards.
- The Independent Monitor shall refer complaints arising from its work to the Joint Monitoring and Review Mechanism.
- The Independent Monitor will regularly prepare full and summary reports as outlined in Annex VI.
- The Parties will facilitate the work of the Independent Monitor including by ensuring that the Monitor has access to information as required in territories of both Parties in order to carry out its functions. However, the Parties, in accordance with their national legislation on data protection, may withhold any information which they are not permitted to communicate.
Engagement of Independent Monitor in Ghana
Ghana through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources contracted the services of the Scientific Certification Systems (SCS Global Services) as the Independent Monitor under the VPA GHLAS. The engagement of SGC was reached through an international competitive selection process and sealed with a contract terms entered into between parties in June, 2013
What is the scope of work of the Independent Monitor?
The work of the IM under the GhLAS covers the entire timber supply chain starting from the forest through to shipping at the ports in Ghana and the receiving points of the competent authorities in the EU. The focus is to thoroughly investigate the GhLAS to ensure that is functioning effectively and fit for purpose. The range of functions covers timber harvested for both exports and domestic purposes. Other more specific functions of the IM functions include the following:
- · Assessment of the implementation and effectiveness of the GHLAS
- · Assessment of the effectiveness of corrective actions undertaken
- · Assessment of the adequacy of data management systems supporting the GHLAS and the verification advise by the Timber Validation Department (TVD) for the issuance of FLEGT license.
- · Assessment of the completeness and accuracy of published FLEGT related trade statistics
- · Assessment of the effectiveness of licences verification procedures on entry to the EU
- · Receipt of complaints, follow up and their resolution.
Progress of Work
SGS submitted its inception report on the contract for the IM work in May 2014 to demonstrate its understanding of the assignment as well as outlining the detail plan of work and associated monitoring indicators.
SGS has since then been undertaking annual audit cycles at the rhythm of one audit cycle per year. SGS has recently issued its fourth annual audit report April in 2018. Each audit report raise number of corrective action requirement whose response and answers tend to enhance the robustness of the GHLAS.