Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

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Indigenous Peoples and FPIC: When does the ‘C’ mean ‘Consent’?

By Jackie Hartley, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales

Indigenous Rights Now! Photo courtesy of the Rainforest Action Network:

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights may soon have an opportunity to confirm whether, and under what circumstances, States are required to obtain the consent of Indigenous peoples in relation to resource development.

Indigenous peoples have long asserted a right to determine whether resource development can occur within their traditional territories. In a range of international fora, advocates for the rights of Indigenous peoples frequently argue that States should obtain the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous peoples before authorising development projects that affect them. To a significant extent, the emergence of this standard reflects the need for Indigenous peoples to protect the integrity of their lands and their relationships with them. However, the standard also reflects a strong belief that States ought to respect Indigenous peoples’ decision-making authority, governance structures and laws in relation to their territories. Continue Reading →