PBI-Guatemala produces infographic on the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent

Published by Brent Patterson on

On January 27, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project shared on Facebook this infographic about free, prior and informed consent.

The United Nations has explained, “Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a specific right that pertains to indigenous peoples and is recognised in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).”

The UN further notes:

Free: consent given voluntarily and without coercion, intimidation or manipulation. A process that is self-directed by the community from whom consent is being sought, unencumbered by coercion, expectations or timelines that are externally imposed.

Prior: consent is sought sufficiently in advance of any authorization or commencement of activities.

Informed: nature of the engagement and type of information that should be provided prior to seeking consent and also as part of the ongoing consent process.

Consent: collective decision made by the right holders and reached through a customary decision-making processes of the communities.

In 2018, PBI-Guatemala commented, “The right to territory and the management of natural resources, particularly in the case of indigenous peoples, continued to be one of the main causes of conflict in the country during the year.”

It adds that when UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz visited Guatemala in May 2018, “PBI helped arrange opportunities for the accompanied human rights defenders to meet with the Rapporteur and for the latter to take PBI’s concerns about the safety of indigenous defenders into account in her report.”

John Vidal has written in The Guardian, “Guatemala’s largely indigenous population say their rights have been violated since the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, dispossessing their communities and driving them into the less fertile highlands.”

“A peace agreement in 1996 should have led to land redistribution, but a handful of powerful families still dominates the economy, and Guatemala remains one of the world’s least equal and most violent countries, with the largest 2.5% of farms occupying more than 65% of the land.”

Vidal concludes, “Economic integration forced on Guatemala by the US and global bodies have further opened the country to foreign-backed mining, hydro and other extractive industries, forcing more evictions of indigenous peoples and leading to more violence and inequality.”

PBI first operated a project in Guatemala from 1983-1999, which closed following the Peace Accords. Unfortunately, the human rights situation soon began again to deteriorate, and local organisations asked PBI to return.

The current project opened in 2003. PBI now accompanies around 10 organisations nationwide with 10 international volunteers based in Guatemala City.

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