The right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is seen as one of the key principles of international human rights law to protect indigenous peoples from destruction of their lives, cultures and livelihoods. Increasingly it is also seen as a right for local communities to protect themselves from significant impact on the resources and territories for which they can make a justified claim of long and established use. Obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and local communities, before undertaking forestry operations on lands they legally or customarily own and/or use, is therefore an important requirement in the new FSC Principles and Criteria for Forest Management.
Although the right to give or withhold consent has been recognized in the FSC system since its original Principles and Criteria (P&C) were published in 1994, there are not many documented examples of good practices of implementing this right. Moreover, several conflicts arising from disregarding this right have been reported. In other words, there is room and need for improving the way in which the right to FPIC is currently implemented in FSC certified forests and plantations. These guidelines are meant to facilitate that improved implementation.
The new version of the FSC P&C approved in March 2012 have broadened the scope of the right to FPIC and are more specific regarding when consent is needed. Some changes include the more explicit requirement of recognizing and addressing the right to FPIC for local communities whose rights or resources are affected by Organizations, as well as the need for consent to be obtained prior to the implementation of management activities which may affect indigenous peoples or local communities. These guidelines are written with the revised P&C in mind but are, to a large extent, also relevant for the current P&C and are therefore meant for immediate use.
The guide provides a detailed methodology aiming to assist all parties involved in FSC certification safeguarding the rights of forest dependent indigenous peoples and local communities in or near FSC-certified operations. This is a first version of guidance on a complex topic. FSC believes that practical implementation of this methodology is necessary to produce valuable results and information to feed into a second version, which is scheduled within 1-2 years from the publication of this version.
Please send all comments on the application of this FSC FPIC guidance and suggestions for improvements for the attention of the Social Policy Manager at: policy.standards at fsc point org.