- To what extent do consultation and consent procedures inhibit or enable genuine intercultural negotiations, given that these procedures often involve contrasting forms of knowledge, information and cultural understandings of nature, development, and the economy?
- To what extent and through what specific practices do affected peoples influence the outcome of the consultation and consent processes?
- How do local indigenous and Afro-descendant groups re-articulate prior consultation and FPIC to their own ends, particularly to defend their cultural integrity and autonomy?
- How do different forms of compensation and benefit-sharing practices condition processes of participation and influence socio-environmental conflicts?
- To what extent, and under which conditions, do consultation, benefit-sharing and mitigation practices provoke conflicts and frictions between and within local communities?
Contribution to International Research
Recognizing the increasing number of socio-environmental conflicts surrounding resource extraction in Latin America over the last decade, this research project aims to study the nature and outcome of currently available mechanisms for conflict resolution. The project in particular questions whether 'prior consultation' and ‘free, prior and informed consent’ (FPIC) processes represent a set of effective mechanisms for preventing and resolving resource conflicts. Whilst also considering the potential for resolution, in this project we intend to go beyond this to ask how consultation, consent and compensation practices strengthen or weaken affected peoples’ democratic participation and rights to self-determination. Consultations with different indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant and peasant groups involve the meeting, translation and negotiation between different cultural traditions, worldviews, forms of knowledge and perceptions of nature. A central focus of the project is therefore to study empirically the cultural dimension of desirable and un-desirable processes and outcomes.
Research Design and Methods
The project is interdisciplinary in nature and involves research partners from nine different university and research institutions and civil society based organisations in Europe, Latin America and the US. The collaborative research project produces a series of country specific case studies from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The case studies, mostly based on ethnographic fieldwork, semi-structured interviews and participatory research methods, capture local dynamics and histories whilst also considering consultation, consent and benefit-sharing/compensatory practices within a wider domain of national and regional politics and economics. The project has specific policy relevance in relation to ongoing initiatives to develop and implement FPIC guidelines and principles by national governments and by international institutions and actors such as the UN Special Representative on Indigenous Peoples Rights, the UN Special representative on Business and Human Rights, the International Council on Mining and Minerals, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.