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South America

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South America

Research Projects

Resource governance and indigenous rights: Understanding intercultural frameworks for negotiating free prior and informed consent
City: Atacama Region
Start Date: 03-01-2015
End Date: 03-01-2020
Researcher: Mitchell, Terry
Department: Psychology

In 2010, Canada endorsed the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The declaration, over a decade in the making, sets out a series of rights that could change relationships between indigenous peoples and settler societies around the world. In particular, the UNDRIP outlines a right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) when states consider legislative or administrative measures that could affect indigenous peoples. FPIC is of particular importance---and has become especially controversial---in relation to the extraction of natural resources on indigenous territories. In countries like Canada and Chile, new economic growth is increasingly tied to the expansion of already significant natural resource sectors. For these countries, implementing FPIC is crucial for addressing existing social conflicts regarding resource extraction on indigenous territories, and for insuring that future development occurs in ways that are both just and sustainable. This study will consolidate indigenous knowledge, advance policy and intercultural processes with the aim of fostering meaningful participation by indigenous communities in decisions regarding economic development on their ancestral territories. The implementation of these rights is crucial to secure a future of sustainable development that respects and honours indigenous traditions of governance and environmental stewardship, while preserving and enhancing their ability to perpetuate their existence as culturally distinct peoples. The research will examine case studies in Canada, supplemented by comparative cases from Chile, in order to establish best practices for implementing FPIC. We will consider the relationship between the standards associated with FPIC and the rights of indigenous peoples already enshrined in national law, such as Section 35 of the Canadian constitution. The research will put central importance on the recognition and incorporation of indigenous peoples' practices of self-government and environmental stewardship. The questions addressed by the research are: what are the standards and practices of cultural recognition, respect and intercultural communication that must be enacted in relationships between indigenous communities, government, and industry in order to establish meaningful and legitimate agreements around the development of natural resources?, and how can domestic and international indigenous rights frameworks be harmonized in different jurisdictions, given existing legal orders and patterns of social conflict? The research will enrich public discourse on indigenous rights and promote the development of intercultural processes of FPIC. The research will engage key stakeholders in government, industry, academia, and indigenous communities. By developing a set of best practices for the implementation of FPIC in the Canadian context, the aim is to translate scholarship on intercultural relations into practical tools for fostering more just and sustainable resource governance. Examining cases in Chile is of additional importance due to significant Canadian investment in that country's mining sector, where conflicts with indigenous communities are of increasing political and economic significance. Intercultural understanding and processes of FPIC are greatly needed to operationalize international rights standards, to improve indigenous state relations and business practices, to promote sustainable resource governance, and the cogeneration of wealth in alignment with Canada's goal of reconciliation.


Student Exchange

Universidad de Concepcin
City: Concepcin


Students Studying

International student studying at Laurier
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