Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

Free, prior and informed consent (FPIC)

‘Free prior and informed consent’ (FPIC), is the principle that a community has the right to give or withhold its consent to proposed projects that may affect the lands they customarily own, occupy or otherwise use. FPIC, for years advanced by FPP, is now a key principle in international law and jurisprudence related to indigenous peoples.

What does FPIC mean to forest peoples?

FPIC implies informed, non-coercive negotiations between investors, companies or governments and indigenous peoples prior to the development and establishment of oil palm estates, timber plantations or other enterprises on their customary lands. This principle means that those who wish to use the customary lands belonging to indigenous communities must enter into negotiations with them. It is the communities who have the right to decide whether they will agree to the project or not once they have a full and accurate understanding of the implications of the project on them and their customary land. As most commonly interpreted, the right to FPIC is meant to allow for indigenous peoples to reach consensus and make decisions according to their customary systems of decision-making.

What are some of the obstacles to FPIC?

On the practical level of carrying out FPIC, it can be problematic identifying who should verify that the right to FPIC has been respected and how this should be done. Making free, prior and informed consent work: challenges and prospects for indigenous peoples (FPP, June 2007), identifies some experiences with third-party audits for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in Indonesia and suggests that verifiers have been unduly lenient about what constitutes adequate compliance, thereby weakening any leverage that communities may gain from companies’ obligations to respect their rights and priorities in accordance with FSC voluntary standards.

However, the publication also demonstrates that verification of FPIC procedures by government as in the Philippines has also proven problematic.

Another challenge for indigenous peoples in their efforts to exercise their right to FPIC is to ensure that their systems of decision-making are genuinely representative and made in ways that are inclusive of, and accountable to, members of their communities.

By insisting on their right to FPIC, forest peoples have been able to block plantations and dams planned for their lands and have been able to negotiate fairer deals with palm oil developers, loggers and local government land use planners.

Why is FPIC important for companies and government?

The right of FPIC is necessary to ensure a level playing field between communities and the government or companies and, where it results in negotiated agreements, provides companies with greater security and less risky investments. FPIC also implies careful and participatory impact assessments, project design and benefit-sharing agreements. FPIC has been widely accepted in the ‘corporate social responsibility’ policies of private companies working in sectors such as dam building, extractive industries, forestry, plantations, conservation, bio-prospecting and environmental impact assessment.

Relevant resources

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PRESS RELEASE: “Selling off our forests is a business for the Peruvian government”

4 December, 2014

Revealing the Hidden

New report finds that Peruvian government is failing to address the real causes of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon while undermining indigenous peoples’ efforts to protect their forests.

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Revealing the Hidden: Indigenous Perspectives on Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon

Forest Peoples Programme
AIDESEP

4 December, 2014

Revealing the Hidden

 

The report, Revealing the Hidden: Indigenous perspectives on deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon was compiled by Peru’s national indigenous peoples’ organisation (AIDESEP) and international human rights organisation, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and is based on the analysis and perspectives of Peru’s indigenous leaders and organisations whose lives, lands and livelihoods are threatened by deforestation on a daily basis.

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New report reveals the danger of not placing community land rights and human rights centre stage in climate change negotiations

8 December, 2014

PRESS INFORMATION FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 8/12/2014

New report reveals the danger of not placing community land rights and human rights centre stage in climate change negotiations

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FIPN letters to the World Bank's President Kim

7 October, 2014

Letters from Peter Kitelo, Kenya Forest Indigenous Peoples Network (FIPN), to President Kim of the World Bank on behalf of the requesters, the Sengwer indigenous people:

FIPN Pre-Board letter to President Kim

FIPN Post-Board letter to President Kim

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"World Bank pledge to resolve the land issues of the Sengwer forest indigenous community"

6 October, 2014

Thousands of homes belonging to hunter-gatherer Sengwer people living in the Embobut forest in the Cherangani hills were burned down earlier this year by Kenya forest service guards who had been ordered to clear the forest as part of a carbon offset project that aimed to reduce emissions from deforestation.

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Ecuador apologizes to indigenous community for allowing oil drilling

2 October, 2014

Thursday, October 2nd 2014 - 06:54 UTC

Ecuador has apologized to an indigenous community for authorizing oil drilling on ancestral land without their permission. The apology to the Sarayaku community came two years after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that the OPEC nation had violated the tribe's right to be consulted on oil concessions granted for their land.

Ecuador paid 1.3 million dollars to the community, which lives in the southeastern jungle region of Pastaza, as a result of the court's decision.

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Briefing Paper: Peace in Papua - Protecting the land and livelihoods of Papua's Indigenous Peoples

29 September, 2014

Peace in Papua - Protecting the land and livelihoods of Papua's Indigenous Peoples

PUSAKA and Koalisi Masyaralat Sipil Peduli Ruang Adat Papua

This report documents the limitations and loopholes of Papua's existing Spatial Planning regulations, with recommendations to the Indonesian government towards better recognition and security of Papua's indigenous peoples.

Papua Damai: Lindungi Ruang Hidup Masyarakat Adat Papua (BI only)

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Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) Submission on Safeguards Information System (SIS)

AIPP

24 September, 2014

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) position on the Safeguards Information System (SIS).

The submission was made to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 24 Sept. 2014.

The submission includes the list of 37 endorsements from indigenous peoples organisations and civil society organisations.

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