The Politics of Free, Prior and Informed Consent

Indigenous and tribal peoples have successfully campaigned for recognition of their territorial, self-governance and cultural rights under international law. Yet Indigenous, tribal and other communities still often struggle to have their voice heard in the face of well-resourced and influential actors pursuing extractives projects that risk affecting community lands and resources. Considerable focus has been given to adapting internationally recognized human rights, including consultation and FPIC rights, into domestic laws and to developing guidance on their implementation. But even progressive national laws and rights-based guidance may not be enough to realize FPIC’s transformative potential. This is in large part due to the political challenges faced by Indigenous communities in claiming their rights, including their right to give or withhold FPIC. These political challenges include: diverging objectives, interests and incentives of different actors; imbalances in power among these actors and rights-holders to influence the outcomes of FPIC processes; weak national legal protections afforded to Indigenous peoples’ territorial and self-governance rights; and the central role and importance accorded to extractive industries in many countries’ economies.
 
CCSI is researching the politics of FPIC —how the distribution of power across different actors, the (mis)alignments of their interests, and characteristics of political systems and broader structures affect whether and how FPIC processes unfold in order to surface existing strategies that account for political realities and to recommend future strategies that may lead to the improved realization of the right to FPIC.