Indigenous Participation and Free, Prior and Informed Consent in REDD+

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The norm of ‘indigenous participation and ‘free, prior and informed consent’’ (FPIC) has been incorporated in many international treaties and policy documents involving the rights of indigenous peoples, such as the 2007 United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). One climate change mitigation initiative particularly involving indigenous communities is REDD+, the world’s largest program on forest protection. However, despite the unanimous commitment to fostering indigenous participation, many states implementing REDD+ at the national level fail to adhere to this norm. The ‘spiral model’ on human rights norms introduced by Risse et al. tries to explain the discrepancy between states’ international commitment to norms, and their lack of domestic norm compliance. This thesis aims to explore to what degree the spiral model can account for states’ lack of compliance with the norm of indigenous participation and FPIC, and proposes various alterations and additional explanatory mechanisms. The analysis therefore concerns both inductive and deductive research. It critically assesses existing literature on indigenous participation and analyses these concepts in three cases of REDD+ implementation: Indonesia, Peru and Costa Rica. This thesis concludes that while the spiral model still largely applies, it lacks understanding in the exact effects of its ‘social mechanisms’ and ‘scope conditions’ that are claimed to improve norm compliance, while the analysis indicates that some of these can also achieve the exact opposite effect. The clashing between international norms was also found to significantly influence compliance. In this case international pressure to rapidly implement climate change mitigation programs often clashes with time-consuming processes of indigenous participation. Different perceptions of relevant stakeholders on who is entitled to a right, in this case who is ‘indigenous’, furthermore proved to be of great importance to compliance. In total indigenous participation and FPIC proves to be a unique norm for the spiral model and on-the-ground practices, as it requires both international pressure to be implemented, but also bottom-up input from indigenous communities for this process to happen effectively.
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