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Indigenous Peoples, Collective Representation and the Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Colchester, Marcus; MacKay, Fergus
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/974
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
indigenous institutions
property rights
customary law
international law
Abstract: "Recognition of collective rights, notably rights to common properties or territories, brings indigenous peoples customary institutions into direct relations with outside interests. New political relations, changing values and market forces create dilemmas for indigenous peoples, especially in choosing between adherence to traditional mechanisms of decision-making and the adoption of new forms of representation. The early experiences of North American indigenous peoples in dealing with European settlers have important lessons for indigenous peoples in other parts of the world today. Drawing on participatory investigations carried out in collaboration with indigenous peoples organizations in Guyana, India, Venezuela and Indonesia, the paper illustrates both the common problems that indigenous peoples face and the diverse solutions that they have evolved to respond to these challenges. New international laws and standard-setting exercises have widely accepted that indigenous peoples should have the right of free, prior and informed consent to activities planned on their lands. Yet case studies show that consent is frequently engineered and indigenous institutions are out-manoeuvred by competing interests seeking access to indigenous peoples common resources. Successful outcomes are most often achieved when collective land tenures are secure, when indigenous peoples control the speed and process of negotiation, and deal with outside interests through hybrid institutions, with legal personality, which nevertheless remain underpinned by customary norms, cosmovisions and values."

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