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Training Manual for Indigenous Peoples on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)

Indigenous peoples today are faced with numerous challenges as their lands, territories and resources are targeted for exploitation by corporations, governments and other external entities. Indigenous peoples all over the world increasingly have to contend with business interests wanting to tap into the last reserves of the world’s natural resources and biological diversity, which indigenous peoples have protected and nurtured for many generations. Through their traditional and sustainable development practices, indigenous peoples were able to maintain their ancestral domains for their own survival and for the sake of future generations. However, corporations have come in the name of “development”, to extract and exploit these resources on a large scale, and in the process displacing and desecrating indigenous communities, violating indigenous peoples’ rights and depriving them of their means of survival.

It is a stark reality that indigenous peoples in Asia are constantly and increasingly exposed to threats of land grabbing and destruction of their resources without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Indigenous communities have many experiences wherein proponents of mining, plantations, dams, national parks, hunting reserves and other development projects have simply remained indifferent to undertaking consultations with the affected communities, much less obtaining their consent before proceeding with the project. These bad practices have led to conflicts and sometimes even killing of indigenous leaders, forced displacement and relocation without proper compensation, loss of traditional livelihoods, devaluation and loss of indigenous cultural and spiritual values related to ancestral land, and ultimately posing an imminent danger to indigenous peoples’ identities as a whole. This has resulted in widespread resistance by indigenous peoples against encroachments into their communities and the assertion of their rights to land, resources and self- determination, including the right to FPIC.

The right to FPIC has long been recognized by a number of international conventions and legal instruments as a collective right of indigenous peoples. It was further upheld by the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and is gaining wider acceptance as an international standard that should be respected by external entities wishing to engage with indigenous peoples and enter into their traditional lands. A growing number of corporations, financial institutions, intergovernmental bodies, UN agencies and other organizations have also incorporated indigenous peoples’ rights and FPIC into their policies in an effort to comply with international human rights standards and obligations. However, the recognition and implementation of FPIC is still far from ideal as seen in the experience of indigenous communities all over Asia. Various stakeholders, including indigenous peoples, are still grappling with how best to implement and operationalize FPIC in a manner that is respectful of indigenous peoples rights.

This Training Manual for Indigenous Peoples on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is meant to equip indigenous peoples’ organizations, leaders, trainers and community members with the information and knowledge necessary to ensure that the right to FPIC is respected. It tackles the concept, framework, elements and principles of FPIC from the perspective of indigenous peoples. It enumerates key provisions of major international legal instruments recognizing indigenous peoples’ right to FPIC. It mentions safeguard policies of several international financial institutions that have committed to respect FPIC. It presents the national legal framework in the Philippines on indigenous peoples and FPIC as an example for other countries, and case studies on how the policy has been implemented in indigenous communities. It includes case stories from different indigenous communities in Asia that illustrate the actual experience of indigenous peoples with projects funded by international financial institutions. It identifies gaps and challenges in implementing FPIC and draws lessons from these experiences, offering pointers for capability-building and more effective advocacy on indigenous peoples’ rights.

The Manual targets indigenous leaders, members of indigenous organizations and communities, activists, advocates and UN agencies and civil society organizations in general. It is particularly intended for indigenous educators, trainers and facilitators working with indigenous organizations and communities, especially those affected by development projects. It is designed for trainers and facilitators to use as a guide when conducting training for indigenous communities on FPIC. It consists of eight (8) modules. Each module can be given in sessions of between 1 to 3 hours, for an estimated total time of 16 hours or two days to finish the entire course. This can however be adjusted according to the type of audience and other considerations such as level of literacy and experience of target participants, time limitation, among others.

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