The RSPO Complaints System is a fair, transparent and impartial process to duly handle and address complaints against RSPO members for allegations of breaches of any of the provisions within the RSPO Key Documents. It is not intended as a replacement for legal requirements and mechanisms in force. It is regulated by the Complaints and Appeals Procedures 2017 (CAP 2017), endorsed by the Board of Governors on 14.06.2017 and amended with effect from 1.12.2018. The CAP 2017 are guided by the principles relating to accessibility, efficiency, impartiality, accountability, and independence. The CAP 2017 was also introduced to ensure that complaints and appeals against RSPO members are handled and resolved in a fair, impartial, and transparent manner.
Five (5) years after its introduction and implementation, the RSPO is now on a mission to review its Complaints and Appeals Procedures. In its pursuit to improve its procedures and systems, the RSPO is also seeking to explore the idea of elevating the existing Complaints System into a wider Grievance System which harmonises the various intricate processes and systems within the RSPO ecosystem.
Considering the above and in accordance with the requirements of the Terms of Reference of the Review of the RSPO’s Complaints and Appeals Procedures 2017 & exploring the implementation of a Grievance System (hereinafter referred to as the “review ToR”), a Steering Group (hereinafter referred to as the “SG”) will be established to oversee the work of the Consultant for this review.
The SG together with the support of the Secretariat will be expected to oversee the work of the Consultant to ensure that the review is balanced and comprehensive and that it addresses all relevant issues and follows due process. In particular, the SG together with the support of the Secretariat is expected to ensure that the Consultant completes the objectives of the review ToR as follows:
- To review the CAP 2017 and to determine its effectiveness in providing remedies for established breaches of RSPO Key Documents and to explore the introduction and implementation of a revised Grievance System in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights through research, literature review, consultations, and meetings.
- To identify all the existing processes within RSPO including but not limited to the CAP 2017 processes comprising of the Dispute Settlement Facility mechanism and Bilateral Engagement in handling actual and alleged breaches of the RSPO Key documents as well as the key internal and external stakeholders involved in these processes, the documents they arise from, the applicability of those documents, and the decision-making processes.
- Particularly, to identify non-CAP 2017 processes within the RSPO system dealing with actual and alleged breaches of the RSPO Key documents.
- To identify potential conflicts of interest and thereafter determine the appropriate division of roles and tasks between the Secretariat and related stakeholders such as the Board of Governors, Standing Committees, Complaints Panel etc. when dealing with the RSPO processes (as set out in items (b) and (c) above).
- Gather and review feedback from RSPO members and relevant internal and external stakeholders on their perception of these processes within RSPO in dealing with actual and alleged breaches of RSPO Key documents.
- To identify any gaps and challenges within the RSPO’s processes in handling actual and alleged breaches as well as to determine the appropriate criteria to declare an actual or alleged breach as resolved and closed.
- To explore and recommend methods of harmonising these processes with the CAP 2017 to achieve a single effective Grievance System.
- To then develop a draft framework for the Grievance System with clear procedures in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and in the process ensuring a balance between transparency and accessibility to information by stakeholders and confidentiality of information.
- To review comments on the draft obtained through public consultation(s), the Steering Group, and the Secretariat.
- To present a finalised framework for a single RSPO Grievance System with clear procedures in line with the requirements of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to the Steering Group and Secretariat.
The SG will receive the final recommendations from the Consultant and sign off on them. After consulting with the Assurance Standing Committee, it will make its final recommendations to the RSPO Board of Governors for endorsement.
The SG will be established by invitation of the Secretariat and once established, will be reporting to the Board of Governors. The SG will be made up of the following individuals: –
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RSPO
- Two (2) members from the RSPO Assurance Standing Committee
- Two (2) members from the RSPO Complaints Panel
- One (1) member from the RSPO Smallholder Standing Committee
- One (1) member from the RSPO Human Rights Working Group
Members of the SG will be expected to act in a manner that is free of conflicts of interest, and to declare any such conflicts that may arise. In the event that a member is unable to participate fully e.g. due to conflicts of interest or repeated absence from meetings, the SG may by consensus request the member to step down and be replaced.
The SG shall meet virtually four (4) times over the course of the review. During these meetings, Chatham House rules apply. The Chatham House Rule aims to provide anonymity to speakers. This rule is applied throughout all meetings as an aid to free discussion, encouraging openness and the sharing of information. The Chatham House Rule reads as follows:
‘When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.’
Any public communications related to the SG and its work will be agreed by consensus of the SG members and approved by the RSPO communications team.
The SG will be dissolved once it makes its final recommendations on the finalised framework for a single RSPO Grievance System to the RSPO Board of Governors for endorsement.
Role of the RSPO Secretariat
The RSPO Secretariat will provide the human and logistical support that the SG requires to achieve its objectives.