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'Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)' and Living Law in South Africa: Neoliberal Technologies and The Limits of Governmentality

Daniel Huizenga, PhD student, Sociolegal Studies, York University

Published April 19, 2018 by Technologies of Justice.

During the Technologies of Justice Conference session Law Process and Indigenous Rights, Daniel Huizenga speaks on Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and Living Law in South Africa. In this talk, he discusses neoliberal technologies and the limits of governmentality. The conference took place from January 26 to 27, 2018 at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. 



Daniel Huizenga describes the meaning of 'Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)'  and the limits it has in places such as South Africa. He explains how according to FPIC, states must consult Indigenous peoples through their chosen institutions in order to obtain their free prior and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their land, territories or other resources. He illustrates how the creation of FPIC has been instrumental in the past five years as a trans-national right to consent, although there is a strain of research arguing that it represents a form of neocolonialism in the context of law and acting as a smokescreen of 'consent' over already existing projects where consent was not previously given.
Daniel speaks on how Indigenous peoples have begun using and reframing FPIC to their own ends and how all sides view it as being far from a settled transnational standard. He also explains how this is still an active field of engagement and work, and how many organizations and governments are exploring FPIC as a focus for new guidelines in various contexts. He illustrates that there is a great call for the return of land, mining areas and tenure in post-apartheid South Africa and that there are avenues and pathways through FPIC that allow assistance in defining control and authority over territories as well as the assertion of governance over territories and redefining governance systems in Indigenous populations. He concludes with the idea of FPIC as a growing sense of living law in South Africa.