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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Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Climate Policies in Guyana: a special report

Amerindian peoples Association (APA)
Forest Peoples Programme (FPP)

11 June, 2014

Indigenous People’s Rights, Forests and Climate Policies in Guyana

 

More than four years after the signing of the Guyana-Norway MoU, this special report seeks to assess the quality of treatment of indigenous peoples’ rights in Guyana’s national policies on land, low carbon development and forests. The review draws on extensive community visits and policy analyses conducted by the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) and the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) between 2009 and 2013.

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Sarawak: New report details violations of Dayak peoples’ rights by dam builders

19 August, 2014

No Consent to Proceed

 

A new report issued by SAVE Rivers, a Sarawak Indigenous Peoples Network, details violations of Dayak peoples’ rights by both the government and companies planning to build a huge dam across Sarawak’s second largest river, the Baram.

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No Consent to Proceed: Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Violations at the Proposed Baram Dam in Sarawak

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact Foundation (AIPP)
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) - The Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia
PACOS Trust, Sabah (Partners of Community Organisation)

18 August, 2014

No Consent to Proceed

 

This report issued by SAVE Rivers, a Sarawak Indigenous Peoples Network, details violations of Dayak peoples’ rights by both the government and companies planning to build a huge dam across Sarawak’s second largest river, the Baram.

Read more

Negotiations on future climate convention still at inception stage, while concerns on impact of climate actions on indigenous peoples' rights remain marginal

11 July, 2014

The recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) sessions in Bonn for a draft negotiating text for the Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Peru will resume in October. In the meantime discussions showed low concern on human-rights implications of climate-change related actions in particular land-based mitigation.

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Action on land rights and FPIC are key to effective forest and climate initiatives - finds new APA and FPP special report on Guyana

11 July, 2014

Guyana has been a major proponent of international funding for avoided deforestation in tropical countries. In 2009 the government signed an MOU with the Kingdom of Norway under an agreement to reduce deforestation, pursue low carbon (non-fossil fuel) development and enter into negotiations with the EU on a trade treaty under the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative. Almost five years after the signing of this bilateral agreement, how are indigenous peoples’ rights and local benefit sharing issues being addressed in Guyana’s land use, forest and climate policies?

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Indonesia needs political reform, not just legal prosecution, to eradicate corruption in palm oil plantations

10 July, 2014

Workers loading fresh fruit bunches

The article looks at the links between oil palm business and public officials. It comes to the conclusion that the prosecution of corrupt officials is failing to stop corruption by elected officials, and that reform of electoral funding laws is needed so that politicians and political parties do not have to reply on bribes or oligarchs to fund their election campaigns.

To read the full article please click here

 

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The Batwa Petition Before Uganda's Constitutional Court

9 July, 2014

Author: United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU)

On 8th February 2013, the Batwa of Uganda submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court of Uganda seeking recognition of their status as indigenous peoples under international law and redress for the historic marginalisation and continuous human rights violations they have experienced as a result of being dispossessed of their ancestral forest lands by the government.

Before their eviction, the Batwa had lived in the forest since immemorial times. The measures taken to remove the Batwa, to create ‘environmentally protected’ areas, and to limit access and use of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Echuya Central Forest Reserve, resulted in the violation of the Batwa’s property rights over their ancestral lands. While colonial protection of the forest started in the 1920s, most Batwa continued to live in the forest and to use its resources until the 1990s; when they were evicted, without consultation, adequate compensation or offer of alternative land.

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Deforestation, REDD and Takamanda National Park in Cameroon - a Case Study

Samuel Nnah Ndobe and Klaus Mantzel

9 July, 2014

Deforestation, REDD and Takamanda National Park in Cameroon - a Case Study

While focusing in particular on the German financing of rainforest protection in Cameroon, this report also covers the broader issue of how Cameroon’s forest policies are shaped by the REDD process. It takes a case study approach, examining the way such forest protection policies impact on local communities by focusing in on the specific example of those communities whose land has been overlaid by the Takamanda National Park.

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Press Release: Communities protest that UK's Equatorial Palm Oil are poised to seize land in Liberia

24 June, 2014

The UK-listed company, Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO), which is threatening to seize land owned by Liberians in defiance of commitments by Liberia’s President, will today receive a visit from affected communities. Members of the Jogbahn Clan, together with representatives from Liberian and international NGOs, will deliver a petition with over 90,000 signatures, reminding EPO that it does not have community consent to expand onto their lands, and that doing so could escalate violence. EPO’s past operations in Liberia have triggered allegations of conflict and human rights abuses.

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