On the 13th February FPP joined local communities and partners in Liberia in welcoming the decision of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Complaints Panel’s (CP’s) on Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL). This recent decision followed from an independent review of GVL’s implementation of previous CP decisions that involved a number of complaints filed since 2012.
This new decision highlights GVL’s overwhelming failing to comply with Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) standards contained in the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria which act as the industries voluntary standards to ensure fundamental human rights are protected in the sector.
Critically the new decision finds that GVL have not allowed local communities to freely identify their community representation; used promises of jobs and benefits to secure land agreements; signed agreements without ensuring local communities had access to independent legal advice; used methods that were coercive in reaching those agreements, failed to carry out participatory mapping, and continued to construct on sacred land after being made aware and before and resolution was secured.
As a result, this new ruling finally confirms what Liberia civil society and local communities have argued for six years, that GVL has always and continues to fail to meet key FPIC standards and as a result is illegally securing lands to operate in clear violation of international human rights law. For the fourth poorest country in the world, whose population continues to rely upon small holder farming, this violation of customary rights continues to risk the land and food security of vulnerable populations in GVL’s area of operation and stands in stark contrast to their claims of providing much needed development to the area.
Liberian civil society released a statement that not only welcomes the decision but also commits to ensuring that it is fully implemented for the benefit of local communities in the GVL area of operation and for the sustainable future of the oil palm sector’s engagement in Liberia more generally.
Although there has been no official statement from GVL at this stage FPP, along with partners in Liberia, look forward to their full acceptance of the decision and their commitment to fully implementing it urgently.