“The most important element of Indigenous Peoples’ ability to claim the right of free, prior and informed consent is to have informed and organized communities.” --UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Delegate
Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is the principle that a community has the right to give its consent to proposed projects that may affect their lands, resources, livelihoods, and communities. This principle is protected by international human rights law as “all peoples have the right to self-determination” and “all peoples have the right to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” It is enshrined in the International Labour Organization Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
To spread the word about this important right of Indigenous Peoples, Cultural Survival has just produced an innovative new radio series available in English and Spanish, ready for broadcast across radio stations worldwide. These programs will be available for download in a variety of Indigenous languages. Listen to one of these programs:
To hear more programs and download them as mp3s, click here.
Want to learn more about broadcasting these programs on the air at your local radio station? Visit our info page, here.
We've also published an analysis, "Turning Rights into Reality: Issues to Consider in Implementing the Right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent" in collaboration with the Rainforest Foundation.
Read it here:
If the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent is to become universally accepted and recognized, the individuals to whom they apply must first be aware that they have rights in order to claim them. In many Indigenous communities the rights outlined in the Declaration are not widely known or well understood. There is a real sense of urgency about moving this work forward so that communities can be prepared before a conflict arises, in the ultimate hopes of avoiding conflict all together. When development projects threaten their human rights, Indigenous communities need to develop the knowledge and skills to be able to exert this right. Whenever possible, developing community processes prior to the emergence of a conflict will help to better prepare an Indigenous community.
Indigenous leaders emphasize that they must proactively build their capacity to assert self-determination and forge their unique, culture-based development paths (“life plans”), rather than expecting governments and corporations to grant their rights and establish guidelines. This means that Indigenous Peoples must establish, manage, and assert their own processes for FPIC; determine what they need to learn about externally proposed projects such as mines, oil development, and agro-industry, so that they are sufficiently informed about such projects’ potential impacts; and then evaluate this information in light of their own life plans. One important and trusted means for Indigenous communities to develop these practices is to learn from each other how best to exercise their right to FPIC within the context and settings of their own socio-political, economic, and cultural frameworks.
Cultural Survival’s Free, Prior and Informed Consent Initiative is strengthening Indigenous Peoples’ capacity to implement free, prior and informed consent by increasing awareness and understanding of this right through community media and community exchanges. Building on Cultural Survival’s successful community radio program in Guatemala, we are producing and distributing a series of radio programs on topics related to free, prior and informed consent to inform Indigenous listeners about their rights and working with communities to develop their own guidelines, based on their unique experiences and cultural perspectives, to build capacity, reinforce self-determination, and assist communities to organize to defend their rights. Developing appropriate context-based FPIC guidelines will further strengthen community awareness and understanding of those rights.
Read our December 2012 edition of the Cultural Survival Quarterly, which was devoted to the topic of Free, Prior and Informed Consent: