Free, Prior & Informed Consent (FPIC) is the inherent right
Indigenous communities have to decide “yes” or “no” to mining,
forestry, oil, gas, water, or other proposed external activities
that would affect their lands, territories, and natural resources.
FPIC: THE RIGHT TO DECIDE
Indigenous Peoples in Canada and globally are facing denial, resistance, and increasing levels of risk
including the criminalization of Indigenous leaders and the deaths of land and rights defenders.
To minimize these risks, meaningful relationships should be the priority to mutually beneficial growth and
prosperity. FPIC is a process that supports the building and cultivating of such
conversations and relationships.
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
Free, Prior & Informed Consent 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.
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.
Consent means the right to say “yes” or “no”. Consent can be given only by the legitimate
chosen authority of Indigenous communities. The highest standard of consent, if consent is granted, will
involve ongoing consultation and consent confirmation with FPIC being sought before every significant stage
of project development.
FPIC is the right to have sufficient time to consider all relevant information in order to make important
quality-of-life decisions that are consistent with each Indigenous community’s own values, beliefs, customs,
needs, and rights in terms of their identified social, cultural and development priorities. If an Indigenous
community chooses to provide consent this will reasonably involve the negotiation of shared ownership of
business interests and profits with long-term community benefit.
Governments have a responsibility to ensure that Indigenous Peoples’ rights to FPIC are respected and
protected and have an obligation to honour each community’s decision to say “yes” or “no” to any and all
proposed external development activities.
To promote understanding and dialogue about inherent Indigenous rights and national and global standards we
have highlighted a few learning resources. These resources are provided to support Indigenous communities
that wish to be proactive in understanding their collective rights to FPIC.
Be prepared: Communities do not need to wait until industry or government approach them
proposed development projects to start having these conversations. Communities can:
Download this website as a booklet here. Please
share this resource as you wish. You can print it and/or distribute it electronically for free.
Speak with elders and community leaders about traditional cultural forms of jurisdiction and access
Work together to develop community access and consultation protocols for government and industry to
Visit our website at www.fpic.info for more information and resources about
the rights of Indigenous communities and Free, Prior & Informed Consent.
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact - Rights in Action: Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) for
This short video provides communities with the basic knowledge around their rights to Free, Prior and
Informed Consent (FPIC). It demonstrates how effective it can be when corporations are looking to
begin projects on Indigenous lands. This video gives a great introduction for anyone looking to
understand FPIC and decision-making.
These flash cards give a simple overview of Free, Prior and Informed Consent. They are meant to aid
communities when affected by development and extraction projects. They are a good starting point for
Indigenous communities to understand their rights in the decision-making process as it pertains to
Forest Peoples Programme - Communities in the Driver's Seat.
This excellent plain language manual describes Free Prior and Informed Consent for Indigenous
communities and provides 4 steps in the FPIC process: Community mobilization, Negotiation, Decision
Making, Project Monitoring. The manual ends with a discussion of ways to get a fair deal between
communities and companies.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz - Free Prior and Informed Consent: A Local and Global Issue.
In this video, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz gives a public lecture on Free, Prior and Informed Consent
(FPIC). This lecture gives background information on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the ways in which international law has changed over time. She also
presents the arguments that governments have used to fight against granting rights to Indigenous
Peoples, and the challenges Indigenous Peoples face in claiming their rights.
Indigenous Bar Association - Understanding and Implementing UNDRIP: An Introductory Handbook
This handbook gives a detailed and easy-to-understand overview on the United Nations Declaration on
the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This handbook is a great resource to recognizing the
rights of Indigenous Peoples on an international scale.
Centre for International Governance Innovation - UNDRIP Implementation: Braiding International,
Domestic, and Indigenous Law
This report looks at ways in which governments can incorporate the United Nations Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) into their own legislation. It specifically looks at Canada in
relation to braiding together the international rights for Indigenous Peoples, Canadian law, and
Northern Public Affairs - The right to Free, Prior & Informed Consent
This magazine issue is a compilation of the voices of Indigenous Peoples in Canada through a
collection of informative articles as well as poetry and art. The focus of this issue is on Free,
Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as told and understood by various Indigenous individuals. It is a
fantastic resource that gives many examples of why FPIC is important in Canada.