Celebrating indigenous peoples’ rights beyond prior consultation

Daniel Cerqueira*

Versión en español aquí.

In 1994, the UN General Assembly chose August 9th as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. This day serves a moment for civil society, states, and the international community to reflect on the challenges in ensuring respect for indigenous peoples’ rights. This essay will focus on the right to free, prior and informed consultation (FPIC), which faces major challenges in its implementation. This right was recognized in constitutions that established a new model for the participation of indigenous peoples in state decisions. In the 80’s and 90’s, various states in the Western Hemisphere began to define themselves as multicultural societies and abandoned the previously dominant integrationist constitutional paradigm. This paradigm was based on two main premises: i) indigenous peoples’ cultures tend to extinguish due to their unsuitability to the economic and social order; and ii) public authorities must mediate the assimilation of indigenous peoples to the rest of society, guaranteeing them minimum economic and social rights.

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