Rule of law and environmental justice in the forests: The challenge of ‘strong law enforcement’ in corrupt conditions
Widespread illegal forest activities have contributed to deforestation, forest degradation, economic losses to nations and injustices for forest communities in many countries. Promoting rule of law, particularly through ‘strengthening law enforcement’, is an important part of improving forest management and ensuring justice for forest dependent communities. This includes strengthening police and the courts to better detect and punish illegal forest activities. However, available evidence has shown that strong law enforcement activities often fail to address broader systems of illegal activities and can lead to further injustices. Corruption is one reason for these failures and is the focus of this U4 Issue Paper, which draws lessons from Cameroon and Indonesia. Efforts to strengthen law enforcement in the forests need to consider how corruption may interfere with successful detection and suppression of illegal activities. If they are to be successful, programmes promoting forest law enforcement in corrupt contexts also need to be sensitive to how they are implemented, with particular focus on the rights of forest dependent communities.