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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

The politics of scale in global governance: Do more stringent international forest certification standards protect local rights in Russia?

Tysiachniouk, Maria; McDermott, Constance L.; Kulyasova, Antonina A; Teitelbaum, Sara; Elbakidze, Marine


This paper interrogates how the increasing stringency of international rules on Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), as reflected in the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)’s certification standards, is shaping the rights afforded indigenous and local communities in Russia. Viewing the FSC as a ‘global governance generating network’ (GGN) that gains rule-making authority through diverse ‘forums of negotiation’ at multiple scales, we examine how international rules are negotiated and re-configured regarding 1) the ‘scope’ of requirements – who is included or excluded from FPIC and 2) ‘prescriptiveness' – the level and specificity of the rights afforded to FPIC holders.

We find that Russian stakeholders perceive the increasing prescriptiveness of FSC's global FPIC policies as disrupting their existing norms of negotiated compromise, and originating from well-defined and politically influential indigenous populations elsewhere in the world. This has spurred intense debate on the scope of who should qualify for FPIC in Russia. While FSC-Russia's Social Chamber members have used formal standard-setting processes to negotiate for the increased stringency and scope of some FPIC requirements, industry-backed forums have inserted numerous exceptions, and drawn on external expertise and legal counsel to further restrict who counts as an FPIC rights-holder. These ongoing contestations highlight the risk that prescriptive international standards protecting local rights may narrow the scope of whose rights matter in their local implementation.


Forest stewardship council; FSC standard; Free prior and informed consent; Economic social and environmental chambers; Indigenous peoples rights; Boreal forest; Local community; Russia; Forest management; Public participation

Published in

Forest Policy and Economics
2021, Volume: 125, article number: 102407

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Reduce inequality within and among countries
    Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

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    Law and Society

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