Free, Prior and Informed Consent – known as FPIC for short – is a international human rights standard; which Liberia has agreed to follow and respect. In Liberia FPIC is found in the Community Rights Law of 2009. It is also found in various international best practices standards relating to Liberia, such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure, and the Principles and Criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
FPIC is a right that belongs to the whole community. It means that communities have a right to fully participate in decision-making processes that might affect the lands, forest and resources that they customarily own, live on or use – whether the community has a deed or not. This means that communities must be able to decide for themselves whether and how a project can go ahead if they are approached by government or a company. FPIC requires that communities can negotiate for a fair and legally enforceable agreement, and to say ‘no’ to any project that does not properly address the community’s needs, priorities and concerns. FPIC means communities have a right to decide their own future, and not to have their future decided for them by anyone else.