KASAMA Vol. 25 No. 2 / April-May-June 2011 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network
…[P]oor communities often do not initiate the large–scale resource development projects — such as mines, oil and gas development, or major forest concessions — that account for most natural resource wealth. More often, they are bystanders or second–class participants in these negotiations, inheriting the ecosystem costs of these projects with little gain.
The practice of “free, prior, and informed consent” — or FPIC — is designed as an antidote to this state of affairs. FPIC consists of giving local people a formal role — and some form of veto power — in the consultations and ultimate decisions about local development projects. It is intended to secure the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities: their rights to self–determination, to control access to their land and natural resources, and to share in the benefits when these are utilized by others. Many experts believe that without such informed consent on large projects, a community’s land and resource rights are compromised. In fact, without the kind of substantive participation that FPIC mandates, the tenure security of rural communities is always at the mercy of decisions made by others. It is well documented that such insecurity perpetuates poverty. ...[C]ountries like the Philippines and Australia have enacted laws requiring that FPIC be obtained by the government for projects within the ancestral domains of indigenous peoples. [see References below*]
…Putting the principles of free, prior, informed consent into practice remains a challenge. Important questions remain:
- How can we define “free” in practice? How far ahead does “prior” mean? What are the formal terms of “informed consent”?
- What is the role of customary law in FPIC? And what is the role of official processes, such as public hearings or referenda?
- In a diverse community, how is consent given and who gives the consent? Is a majority enough or is full consensus required? Is a written, legally binding agreement necessary?
- How is FPIC verified? Does the government verify it or is oversight by an independent party necessary?
- In implementing FPIC, how do we ensure a balance between the state, the general public interest, and affected community interests, particularly in the distribution of benefits?
The above text is extracted from: World Resources 2005: The Wealth of the Poor—Managing Ecosystems to Fight Poverty
. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (WRI) in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme, and World Bank, 2005.
You can download or order hard copy at this web address http://www.wri.org/publication/world-resources-2005-wealth-poor-managing-ecosystems-fight-poverty
Commonwealth of Australia. 1976. “Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.”
Congress of the Philippines. 1997. “The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.”
Free Prior Informed Consent
Reprinted from: ASIA INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ PACT – An Organization of Indigenous Peoples in Asia, Info-Poster on Free, Prior and Informed Consent. Online at http://www.aippnet.org/home/
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