The Importance of Free, Prior and Informed Consent

Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is the right of Indigenous Peoples to say “yes” or “no” to all proposed developments that may affect the collective rights of their communities.

Consent must be discussed free from threat to individuals or communities; must be sought prior to the beginning of any development which may affect Indigenous lands; and ensure community leaders are able to make informed decisions based on all necessary facts about the known and potential risks and benefits for their communities.

FPIC is the right to decide.

“…resource extraction and other major development projects in or near indigenous territories [are] one of the most significant sources of abuse of the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide. In its prevailing form, the model for advancing with natural resource extraction within the territories of indigenous peoples appears to run counter to the self- determination of indigenous peoples in the political, social and economic spheres.” United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, 2011.

“…resource extraction and other major development projects in or near indigenous territories [are] one of the most significant sources of abuse of the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide. In its prevailing form, the model for advancing with natural resource extraction within the territories of indigenous peoples appears to run counter to the self- determination of indigenous peoples in the political, social and economic spheres.” United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, 2011.

Indigenous Peoples’ rights are inherent. They are grounded in Indigenous law, knowledge, philosophies, land use and stewardship. Indigenous rights to self-determination are granted to them by their Creator; these rights cannot be determined or denied by legislation, or any nation state. However, efforts to mobilize these rights have resulted in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which affirms inherent rights. UNDRIP declares the minimum standard of human rights and dignity for Indigenous Peoples globally.

Article 32 (2) of UNDRIP asserts that: States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.

Free means consent must always be obtained without force, coercion, intimidation, manipulation, or pressure from government or industry. No violence, physical intimidation, or financial or social coercion can be used to force decisions in favour of development.

Prior means sufficient time is provided well in advance of any development activity so Indigenous communities can adequately review and consider all relevant information to balance the potential risks and benefits to their communities and territories of all proposed decisions and activities.

Informed means communities must have access to the best scientific, environmental, social, and financial information necessary to determine the risks and benefits of any decision. Communities must also be provided with adequate time to access and consult traditional knowledge holders about the proposed development activities to ensure full understanding of the long-term impact of proposed activities.

Do you want to support Free, Prior and Informed Consent? RAVEN supports Indigenous nations asserting their right to consent. Currently, Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Coldwater Nations are asserting their right to consent in their legal challenge to stop the Trans Mountain Tanker and Pipeline Expansion Project as the shoddy federal consultation process failed to uphold FPIC and honourable consultation. You can support their legal challenges here: https://pull-together.ca

Did you know that Indigenous consent is foundational in Canadian history and law? The Royal Proclamation of 1763 – sometimes referred to as an Indigenous bill of rights – sets out the principle that the government could only gain access to Indigenous peoples’ land and resources with their free consent. This same principle is at the heart of the Treaty-making process.

You can learn more via these declarations below:

You can learn more about FPIC here: http://whatis.fpic.info/

 

Take Action