Free, Prior, and Informed Consent in the Philippines: A Fourth World Critique

Free, Prior, and Informed Consent in the Philippines: A Fourth World Critique
Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Rights book series (CHREN, volume 3)
Armi Beatriz E. Bayot
Human Rights in the Extractive Industries, 14 June 2019; pp 281-309
When it comes to the planning and execution of resource use activities, indigenous peoples’ voices do not carry the same weight as those of states—not even when the activity at issue will have a profound and irreversible impact on indigenous peoples’ survival. As illustrated by how the norm of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) is implemented in the Philippines, this is due to competing state-centric international and domestic legal norms that privilege state prerogatives over natural resources vis-à-vis indigenous peoples’ rights over their territories. The doctrine of state sovereignty is so fundamental in international law that states’ acknowledgment of indigenous peoples’ rights, in general, and FPIC, in particular, continue to be qualified by this doctrine. FPIC, therefore, remains to be a regime of unfulfilled promise due to the inherent power imbalance in the international law framework in which it exists, which is based on a Western conception of state sovereignty that denies the (pre-)existence and validity of indigenous polities and their historical sovereignty. The way forward is to assert indigenous peoples’ participation in international law-making, based on their right to self-determination and historical sovereignty, to empower them to influence the content of other norms of international law that affect them—not just those international law norms that ostensibly exist specifically for the protection of indigenous peoples (such as FPIC).

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