On 8 July 2015, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Accreditation Services International (ASI), an accreditation body that assesses organizations that issue certificates for a range of standards, conducted an expert discussion as a first step towards developing the RSPO Independent Appeals Mechanism (IAM) within the RSPO Complaints System.
This is a welcome development, as an appeals mechanism at present is not available within the RSPO. Until now, appeals are heard by the Board of Governors, but since early 2015, the Board's involvement in the complaints system and appeals has been removed to make the system more independent
One of the key recommendations based on a recent evaluation of the Complaints System is an IAM for the RSPO Complaints System to support an independent and impartial governance and decision making procedure. Establishing an IAM to replace the Board of Governors’ current role in appeals would further reduce risk of conflict of interest in the RSPO Complaint System.
The main objective of the discussion was to share stakeholders’ approach, practical experience and best practices with regards to dealing with appeals connected to the complaints mechanism. Specifically, the aims were to present the preliminary overview of the IAM, and to gather practical experience from various sectors on the current IAM that will enable RSPO to design and implement an efficient appeals mechanism and to identify the most suited mechanism for the RSPO Complaint System.
During the discussion, participants shared their views on how the proposed IAM should be developed. The views and inputs focussed on:
- the structure and composition of the panel, including its links to the RSPO Secretariat;
- type of the appeals mechanism, its scope and how the case can be allowed to reach appeals stage;
- the definition of independence;
- how decisions should be implemented, procedures for the new evidence, and possible funding mechanism;
- the procedure for reporting, disclosure, and transparency.
The participants also shared their practical experience in handling complaints and actively provided inputs to the proposed appeals mechanism and procedures. All inputs gathered from this discussion will be used for further development of the IAM.