human rights & business (and a few other things)

Report on Free Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples & the Mining Industry Launched at Middlesex

This post is adapted from Indigenous Peoples Links’ press release. For more information please contact Andy Whitmore from PIPLinks, who is also a PhD student at Middlesex University School of Law.

Email: [email protected]


Professor James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the launch in Barnet Town Hall

There is now a growing acceptance of the requirement for indigenous peoples’ Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) in many industries, including the extractive industries. This has been reflected by its incorporation into policies of an increasing number of mining companies, although admittedly sometimes in a more diluted form.

As the need for FPIC is introduced into state law, and made a requirement of financing, companies are increasingly struggling with how to implement FPIC. Yet, for indigenous peoples it is clear that their right to give or withhold FPIC should be seen in a context of them as rights-holders, rather than just yet another stake-holder. Therefore, there seemed to be a need for research to act as a basis for constructing a common ground with regard to the requirement for indigenous peoples’ FPIC.

The report, Making Free Prior & Informed Consent a Reality: Indigenous Peoples and the Extractive Sector seeks to do just that. Authored by Cathal Doyle, PhD graduate from Middlesex and Jill Carino from the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights, it advocates for multinational mining companies, the investor community, and state actors to understand the importance of the FPIC principle from ethical, sustainability and economic perspectives. Fundamentally it argues that it is essential to understand FPIC from an indigenous peoples’ rights-based perspective in order to effectively implement it in a manner which is in accordance with indigenous peoples’ exercising their right to self-determination.

The report was launched at Middlesex University on 2nd May, involving a round-table discussion of the report’s contents by indigenous peoples, representatives of the mining industry and invited experts. This was followed by a public launch, at which a number of the indigenous peoples spoke about what FPIC meant to them, following on from a keynote address by the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, Professor James Anaya. Professor Anaya stressed the importance of FPIC as part of a bundle of rights, and yet how, so far, its implementation was often far from adequate. He noted how both the round-table, and the report itself, were an excellent push forward in the implementation of FPIC.

Anne Marie Sam of the Nak’azdli First Nation in Canada stressed what the concept meant to her. Her elders had noted that the “souls of our ancestors are on the land. You take care of the land and the land takes care of you. Our identity comes from the land”. She joined other speakers in passionately advocating for their right to decide their own fate. They stressed the growing importance of indigenous peoples organising, so that they could assert these rights. They also spoke to the emerging theme of indigenous communities defining their own culturally appropriate guidelines for implementing FPIC, which is reviewed – with the aid of case studies – in the report.

The research was conducted on behalf of a consortium of organisations, including Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks), Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR), and Middlesex University School of Law, but backed by a larger number of indigenous advisors and organisations.

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