Climate, Environment and Society Indigenous Rights and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in the Mining Sector
Indigenous peoples constitute around 6% of the world's population yet they comprise 19% of the extreme poor and are nearly three times more likely to live in extreme poverty than their non-indigenous counterparts. Historicall indigenous peoples have been exposed dispossession of their lands, structural racism and violence.
Over the past decades, several instruments within the international human rights system were established to address the long histories of dispossession and discrimination, focusing specifically on indigenous rights. Among the most important ones are the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (C 169), adopted in 1989, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) from 2007. The principle of free prior informed consent, most explicitly articulated in the UNDRIP, is a safeguard critical to protect indigenous rights. FPIC is grounded in the rights to self-determination and be free from racial discrimination guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. According to the UN special report on indigenous rights and extractive industries, extractive activities should generally not occur within the territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior, and informed consent.
Today, indigenous customary lands are estimated to cover at least 50 % of the global landmass, safeguarding 80% of the earth’s biodiversity - yet, only a small fraction of this customary land is officially recognized by governments and formally titled. More than thirty years after the adoption of the ILO C169, and more than ten years after passing the UNDRIP, the implementation of FPIC is - as various UN bodies have documented - still weak. Specifically, the lack of proper implementation of FPIC in the mining sector has given rise to concern. However, as UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya noted: “Despite such negative experiences, looking towards the future, it must not be assumed that the interests of extractive industries and indigenous peoples are entirely or always at odds with each other.
Sector Programme commitment
The Sector Programme's activities focus on providing political decision-makers with empirically-based information on the state of implementing mining practices that respect indigenous rights and the role of indigenous rights in due diligence mechanisms. The Sector Programme is currently finalizing a study on better implementation of consultations and free prior informed consent consistent with international standards in Latin America.