There is no legally recognised procedure that specifies the methods of consultation for the development of new norms. A Ministerial decree from 1999 requires that local communities and residents are closely involved in the classification of forests with a view to ensuring that their rights are respected and their interests are safeguarded, but the terms and procedures of consultation have not been defined.
The forest reform process over recent years has supported greater participation by stakeholders. In general, the central government has organised debates on the new norms with key stakeholders such as donors and civil society organisations (CSOs). This initially limited group of partners has grown over time, and now includes other stakeholders, but they have been selected on the basis of criteria that are not always very clear. The current forest policy and law reform seems to have been more open to consultation with civil society, communities, and the CSOs under the “Pygmies” Research Action Network (RACOPY) and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) coalition appointed as thematic leaders by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF). For the review of the forest law, MINFOF defined specific areas and charged the thematic leaders with collecting proposals on each of them. Most of these leaders have organised workshops with stakeholders to collect their proposals before formulating final proposals to MINFOF.
Implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) has included the establishment of a consultative structure called the Joint Monitoring Committee, whose role is to facilitate dialogue and the exchange of information between the parties (see Appendix XI of the Agreement). The work of this committee should be transparent and the information and results made available to the public. The Government of Cameroon has set up a National Monitoring Committee consisting of all the stakeholders in the forest sector, which is supposed to be consulted on all issues prior to the Joint Monitoring Committee taking forward implementation of the VPA. The decree creating the National Monitoring Committee was signed by the Prime Minister on 10 September 2012; it sets out that the committee of 14 members includes a civil society representative and an indigenous peoples’ representative. Although the decision-making process should preferably be by consensus, there is an option that decisions will be made by a simple majority of the members; this represents a real risk in terms of the effective consultation of civil society and indigenous communities, which, apart from being under-represented, do not have real powers to guarantee that their concerns or points of view will be taken into account. Internal documents seen by civil society also suggest that the multi-stakeholder process that was set up during the negotiation of the VPA has not only stalled but is in danger of not continuing, which is a risk in terms of good governance.
|Decision n°135/d/MINEF/cab of 26 November 1999 - establishing the procedures for the classification of forests in the permanent forest areas of the Republic of Cameroon