The right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent means that governments have to inform indigenous communities about any development projects they want to start in their territories, and listen to their opinions before beginning the project.
It is important to have all the information about the potential impacts of development projects on the environment, the community and the people. The information should be available in a way in which everyone can understand, and in the native language of the people it will affect.
The right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent is stated in national and international laws, and can be applied in defence of lands and territories when there is a project that will cause irreparable damage.
It is important to demand that this law is complied with because it protects the environment, guarantees clean water and air, and it is a mechanism of controlling development projects to ensure that truly benefit indigenous communities.
The right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent clearly states that the government should not force people to change their method of organisation, thinking, or decision making, nor spread inaccurate information to misinform Indigenous Peoples.
In order to ensure that the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent is complied with, there should be community meetings which make people aware of what is happening and could happen in their area. In addition to this, projects must be supervised in order to ensure that decisions made in the community meetings, are implemented during the development project.
For the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent to be correctly applied, it is important to know that this right is applicable to all Indigenous Peoples. It must be adhered to with respect for indigenous communities’ own methods of communication and each person’s opinion must be heard. Furthermore, it means that there should be meetings with representatives of the government, companies, and Indigenous Peoples in order to arrive at an agreement that benefits the community.
In order for this right to be applied fairly, it should respect the following: 1. From the start of a project, there should be a consultation with the Indigenous People of the area; 2. There should be sufficient time devoted to ensuring that the community receive all of the information about the projects and its impacts; 3. Information should be distributed in accordance with the traditional ways of each community; 4. Any form of trying to influence the opinions of the people should be avoided; 5. All the details of decisions taken should be recorded.