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Wednesday, 04. December 2013
Update on Resolution of ILO Self-Declaration Issue


BONN, Germany, 04 December 2013 – On 13 November 2013, the FSC International Board of Directors agreed on a process to resolve the ongoing issue of disagreements on the Self-Declaration on compliance with fundamental workers’ rights (as expressed in the ILO Core Conventions and defined in the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work).


Compliance with fundamental workers’ rights is a key element of FSC’s ongoing efforts to incorporate social standards into its chain of custody (CoC) standards. In 2011, FSC requested certified organizations sign a Self-Declaration on their commitment to the principles of the ILO core conventions. However, not all certificate holders were willing or able to do this.

To resolve this problem, the FSC board agreed an interim solution for certificate holders to demonstrate compliance, until such time as a long-term solution is created. The following decision by the board provides a mechanism for solving the issue of initial commitment, while seeking a permanent stakeholder-based solution to the FSC commitment to protect workers’ rights in CoC certified companies.

The FSC International Board of Directors, gathered in Granada, Nicaragua, for Board Meeting 64, has reached the following conclusions and decisions:

Recognizing that:

  • 1. The Forest Stewardship Council is firmly committed to protecting the rights of workers in Organizations with FSC Chain-of-Custody certification.
  • 2. The Self-Declaration on compliance with fundamental workers’ rights, as expressed in the ILO Core Conventions and as defined in the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, was approved in October 2011 as an interim measure for assuring compliance with social requirements for Chain-of-Custody certificate holders, until such time as the means to ensure compliance, such as auditable indicators, were created, consulted, and approved for implementation in all Chain-of-Custody certifications.
  • 3. Once those auditable indicators for compliance with ILO conventions have been approved and implemented, a Self-Declaration specifying compliance with those conventions will no longer be needed.
  • 4. The Chain-of-Custody Technical Committee presently revising COC standards was not commissioned to provide means for verifying compliance with the ILO conventions.
  • 5. The wording of the Self-Declaration, approved in October 2011 without full consultation, has proven very difficult for some COC certificate holders to accept. And,
  • 6. The permanent solution to this problem requires a sub-chamber-balanced working group to negotiate and recommend to the Board of Directors appropriate means to demonstrate compliance with the ILO conventions, including auditable indicators.

The FSC International Board of Directors has therefore decided:

  • A. To create, as quickly as possible, a sub-chamber-balanced COC Special Working Group whose principle purpose will be to negotiate and recommend to the Board the means to ensure compliance with the ILO Core Conventions as defined in the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, including auditable indicators.
  • B. That this COC Special Working Group shall include representation from FSC members from labor unions and from FSC member companies that have had difficulty signing the initial Self-Declaration as approved in October 2011.
  • C. That, effective immediately, the December 2012 modified Self-Declaration negotiated with the FSC Secretariat shall be accepted by Certification Bodies - for companies anywhere in the world - as an interim commitment to respecting and protecting the rights of workers, thereby fulfilling the current requirements for Self-Declaration. This opportunity will only be available until the practical ways of verification of ILO compliance by COC certificate holders, including auditable indicators, have been approved by the FSC International Board of Directors.
  • D. That the deadline for completing the development of these means to ensure compliance, including auditable indicators, shall be December 31, 2014; with no extensions unless formally approved by the FSC International Board of Directors.

Approved on 13 November 2013.


The Forest Stewardship Council
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent non-governmental organization that promotes environmentally sound, socially beneficial, and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests. FSC was created in 1993 to help consumers and businesses identify products from well-managed forests. FSC sets standards by which forests are certified, offering credible verification to people who are buying wood and wood products. Currently more than 183 million hectares and 27,000 companies are certified to FSC standards worldwide.

For more information visit www.fsc.org.

For more information contact:
Karen Bennett Van der Westhuizen
Communications Director, FSC International Center
Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)228 367 66 58
E-Mail: k.bennett at fsc point org


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