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The adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 reinvigorated discussions about participation by indigenous peoples in decision-making processes that affect them. In particular, the debate revolves around interpretations of the concept of “free, prior and informed consent” (FPIC), which is becoming one of the central mechanisms in international law and policy for resolving conflicts about lands and natural resources.
In this study, the legal status of FPIC and conditions for its successful implementation are examined. Firstly, the principle is contextualized by examining the underlying concept of self-determination and derivative rights to lands and resources. Secondly, FPIC is explored from within the framework of the right to effective participation. Thirdly, the existing international platforms and institutions in which FPIC norms are present are surveyed. Fourthly, a detailed analysis of recent regional case law clarifies the legal application of FPIC in the context of land and resource rights. Finally, a number of recent guidelines for the implementation of FPIC processes in the framework of specific voluntary sustainability initiatives are compared and analyzed. This study provides both a theoretical and a practical starting point for scholars, lawyers, policy makers, or others interested in FPIC processes and indigenous peoples.