Free, prior and informed consent has a sister acronym: one that up until now, surfaced more regularly in documents produced by industry (and governments) – free, prior, and informed consultation. By and large, if you are looking at enforceable standards (as opposed to soft standards, such as UN Declarations) consultation is the focus of FPIC, rather than consent.
This distinction has long been the ‘thorn in the side’ of this right in the view of Indigenous Peoples and their advocates. However, this trend is changing, with the International Finance Corporation (the lending arm of the World Bank) releasing its new Performance Standards, which will come into effect in January 2012.
The updated Performance Standards were a result of an 18 month consultation with affected stakeholders. As a result, free, prior and informed consent is now enshrined in Performance Standard 7.
At the moment, where and how FPIC will be operationalised under the IFC standards is the burning question. The accompanying Guidance Notes are yet to be published – although they were due for publication at the end of October 2011*.
For more commentary, see: Foaley Hoag
* Anyone been able to track them down?