VPA annex on the legality assurance system
A timber legality assurance system forms the core of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). The annex on the legality assurance system describes how, in practice, a VPA partner country's legality assurance system will differentiate legal from illegal timber and timber products, and how the country will issue FLEGT licences to legal products.
The annex on the legality assurance system sets out:
- The government agencies responsible for different aspects of the overall system, and how they will work
- The roles the private-sector or civil society organisations play in checking compliance with the system and monitoring implementation
The annex may describe the following components of a timber legality assurance system.
The legality definition. The legality definition describes the rules and regulations that a timber legality assurance system will apply, meaning those that will be checked for compliance. However, most VPAs to date put the legality definition in a separate annex. Liberia, in contrast, includes its legality definition in the annex on the timber legality assurance system. For more information, see the section of VPA Unpacked on the legality definition.
How to verify compliance. Annexes on the legality assurance system describe how VPA partner countries will check that timber and timber products comply with the requirements in legality definitions. In most cases, governments check compliance. In some instances, governments have strengthened checks on compliance by involving nongovernmental organisations to oversee or monitor verification. In Indonesia, the government contracts private auditing companies, called Conformity Assessment Bodies, to check compliance. Civil society oversight complements the audits and reinforces compliance. For more information, see the section of VPA Unpacked on verification of compliance.
Supply chain control. Annexes on the legality assurance system describe how VPA partner countries will ensure that timber and timber products can be tracked from the forest where trees are felled to the point of export. Supply chain controls in VPAs often build on existing systems. These annexes also explain how countries will track transit timber from third countries and wood that is imported for processing before being exported. For more information, see the section of VPA Unpacked on supply chain control.
FLEGT licensing. Annexes on the legality assurance system describe how VPA partner countries will issue FLEGT licences to products that comply with their legality definitions. Most VPA partner countries have needed to create structures to issue FLEGT licences, often building upon an existing control or export licensing system. For more information, see the section of VPA Unpacked on FLEGT licensing.
Independent audit. Annexes on the legality assurance system describe how third-party independent auditors will regularly check that a legality assurance system and its components are functioning as outlined in the VPA. A separate annex to each VPA describes the terms of reference for the independent auditor. For more information, see the section of VPA Unpacked on independent audit.