Sunday, 20 May 2012

Demonstrating the Need to Adhere to Free, Prior and Informed Consent

The post by Patricia Covarrubia on the recent Chilean Supreme Court decision points out the importance of consultation with indigenous peoples about activities on their land. Another blog post has discussed the difference between obtaining free, prior and informed consent and simply engaging in consultation, which in contrast to the need for consent carries no binding obligation.

The requirement of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a key part of several articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including:
Article 10, regarding removal and relocation of indigenous peoples—where “no relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples”

Article 11, concerning redress for the taking of “cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property that was taken without free, prior and informed consent"

Article 19, where it is linked to state requirements to consult AND to obtain free, prior and informed consent before adopting or implementing legislative and administrative measures that affect indigenous peoples

Article 28, in discussing the need for redress for lands taken without the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples

Article 29, in relation to obtaining permission to store or dispose of hazardous materials on indigenous lands; and

Article 32, in relation to the extraction or development of natural resources

The protections of Article 32 and its requirements are particularly applicable to the campaign that the Indigenous Environmental Network has started in partnership with the Athabasca Chipeweyan First Nation. According to this news story, the campaign was launched on May 18 in London. The news story indicates that the campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the harm caused by tar sands extraction and protest plans by Shell to drill in the Arctic this summer.

The news story also refers to a report released by the Indigenous Environmental Network and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation that “profiles Indigenous communities impacted by Shell’s operations in Canada’s Alberta Tar Sands, Aamjiwnaang First Nation’s territory in Ontario, Alaska’s Arctic Ocean and Africa’s Niger Delta.” The report can be found at this link. The campaign and report highlight the importance of adhering to the requirements of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for their free, prior and informed consent.

The recent release of the “First Peoples Worldwide Guidebook on Standard Setting for Indigenous Peoples" noted by the Native News Work is significant in the insistence of adhering to the provisions of the Declaration, in particular that of free, prior and informed consent. The same story comments that some companies have made efforts to adhere to the Declaration: “... four of the ten largest companies in the world–Exxon Mobile, BP, Conoco Philips, and Suncor–have all announced policies that recognize the Declaration.”

Certainly this is welcomed news and an impressive achievement, but the campaign that has been launched last Friday points out that there is much more to be done so that other companies make a definite positive commitment to the Declaration and its principles, including that of free, prior and informed consent.

No comments :