• NGO-state relations in the monitoring of illegal forest logging and wildlife trafficking in Central Africa

      Mbzibain, Aurelian; Tchoudjen, Teodyl Nkuintchua (Elsevier, 2021-08-28)
      Independent forest monitoring (IFM) by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) emerged in the late 1990s as a forest governance mechanism in response to rising forest crime in Asia and Central Africa. IFM is the use of an independent third party that, by agreement or not with state authorities, provides an assessment of legal compliance, and observation of and guidance on official forest law enforcement systems. The success of IFM by NGOs is therefore, inextricably linked to the nature of the relationship with state authorities yet this relationship has neither been explored nor understood. There is scant empirical research on this mechanism globally. This paper addresses these gaps through participatory observation, documentary analysis and interviews with leaders of five NGOs at the forefront of forest and wildlife monitoring in Central Africa. Using Najam (2000) 4-C framework, we find complex and fluid relationships ranging from cooperation, complementarity, confrontation and instrumentalization. Complementarity and confrontation emerge as the most important relationship types while cooperation is the least prevalent relationship. In response to challenges in the relationships, NGOs use a repertoire of strategies and tactics to influence the state in pursuit of their goals. Unfortunately, significant dependence on a limited stream of intermittent external donor funding and lack of clearly articulated influence and advocacy strategies, limit the potential contribution of IFM to the fight against forest and wildlife crime in Central Africa. The implications for IFM organisations, national governments and donor agencies are discussed.