Governments across the Americas continue to discriminate against Indigenous peoples by denying their right to have a say on decisions which may have devastating consequences for their cultural survival. Motorways, pipelines, hydroelectric dams and open-cast mines are some of the development projects which governments continue to carry out on or near Indigenous territories without obtaining their free, prior and informed consent.
The right to consultation, as established in various international human rights standards, is key for Indigenous peoples. They have a special relationship with their territory and environment and their cultural survival depends on it. As Eriberto Gualinga from the Sarayaku Indigenous community in Ecuador has put it “for us, the rainforest is life. It gives us our identity as an Indigenous people. Our life as a people depends on our natural environment.” The following is a summary of some of the serious challenges that Indigenous peoples face on a daily basis as they claim the right to consultation and free, prior and informed consent.