This project analyses the rights to Participation and Consultation of Indigenous Peoples in all of those matters that could directly affect their rights and interests. Special consideration is given to the requirement of Prior, Free and Informed Consent (FPIC) in the light of international and regional human rights jurisprudence.
During the last decades, the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights has been strongly supported by the international community as part of the developments of international human rights law. The adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007 is a clear example of this legal trend.
In order to guarantee full and effective enjoyment of their rights, and the possibility to continue living their traditional way of life, the right to participation and consultation in all matters that could directly affect them has been recognized. The obligation to consult indigenous communities imposes specific obligations on state authorities in order to preserve and guarantee their distinctive cultural identities and traditions. Among these obligations, state authorities need to seek the prior, free and informed consent (FPIC) of affected indigenous communities when the implementation of development projects or concessions for the exploration or exploitation of natural resources would severely affect their physical or cultural survival.
In most cases, nevertheless, the interests of indigenous communities will need to be balanced with the interests of other involved parties, such as private land owners, companies with concessions for exploration or exploitation of natural resources, and the general interest of the society at large. In these cases, a balancing exercise – taking into account all interests at stake – needs to occur in order to deliver the most effective level of protection to all potentially affected rights and legitimated interests.
The outcome of this project will be the publication of two articles in internationally recognized peer-reviewed journals, and the elaboration of a policy paper on FPIC.
Alejandro Fuentes is a Senior Researcher at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI), an affiliated lecturer at the Faculty of Law at Lund University (Sweden) and –since 2022, a Professor of International Human Rights Law at Africa University (Zimbabwe). He received his Doctor of Laws (PhD) in International law and Master (LL.M) in Comparative and European Legal Studies from Trento University (Italy), and Law degree from the University of Córdoba (Argentina).
His main areas of expertise are international human rights law, with focuses on regional systems of human rights protection, local governance, human rights cities, and sustainable development. Additionally, Alejandro’s expertise convers a diverse set of collective and individual rights questions including cultural diversity, identity, minority, indigenous peoples, and children’s rights.
Some of the foundational questions that currently engage his research are related to balancing potential conflict of rights and how regional human rights courts search for a fair adjudicative balance between conflicting legal interests. For instance, regarding indigenous peoples rights, essential questions relate to how regional tribunals find a fair balance between the protection of their traditional lands and cultural practises, and the interest of national governments to exploit natural resources, support sustainable development and protect environmental rights.
Alejandro also has extensive experience in developing and implementing international development programmes. These programs are aimed at strengthening institutional capacities in partnership with local stakeholders, including governmental institutions and judicial actors, across the globe. These initiatives have largely focused on the advancement of human rights education (HRE) in academia, including the development of clinical legal education (CLE) at partner universities. Alejandro is currently in close collaboration with institutional partners in Africa (Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe); Europe (Belarus, Poland, Armenia, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, and –of course- Scandinavian countries); and the Americas (Mexico, Colombia, Cuba).
For further updates on his research, please refer to his Research profile: