States must obtain an indigenous people´s approval as a precondition for any project affecting indigenous territory or resources, including their means of subsistence. FPIC is grounded in the principle that “a community has the right to give or withhold its consent to proposed projects that may affect the lands they customarily own, occupy or otherwise use.”
States must hold good-faith consultations with indigenous, peasant, fisher-folk, traditional, urban or other communities before any plan, project, or legislative or constitutional reform, or administrative measure that may affect directly or indirectly the land, territories or natural wealth and resources in their possession, or that they occupy, or traditionally use, or depend on for their traditional and livelihood activities. States must generate consensus regarding the procedures of these consultations that must be in harmony with the criteria, customary rules and decision-making structures of the affected communities, as to facilitate access to the consultations to all the affected population, ensuring ample diffusion of and creating a climate of trust that will enable a productive dialogue. The consultation aims for both parties to reach a mutual understanding and to adopt decisions by consensus.
This obligation corresponds to the human rights provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), in particular the rights to livelihood, food, water and housing (Article) and the prohibition against violating peoples’ self-determination [تقرير المصير للشعوب], such that “In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence” (Article 1.2).
FPIC corresponds also to the “process” rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular the rights to freedom of expression and information (Article 19) and the right to participation in public life (Article 25).
A concept advanced by many organizations, including the Forest Peoples Program and Oxfam, is now a key principle in international law and jurisprudence related to indigenous peoples. Case law establishing FPIC rights at the community level includes Occupiers of 51 Olivia Road, Berea Township and 197 Main Street Johannesburg v City of Johannesburg and Others (24/07)  ZACC 1; 2008 (3) SA 208 (CC); 2008 (5) BCLR 475 (CC) (19 February 2008).
For more information, consult Civil Society Organizations´ Contributions to the FAO Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Land and Natural Resources Tenure (pp. 20–23), or Cultural Survival’s Guide to FPIC.