Statement from Amazon Indigenous federation CONFENIAE on FPIC law in Ecuador

November 19, 2020

“Our right, our territory, our decision”

COCA — The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) — the regional Indigenous organization that represents about 1,500 communities belonging to the Amazonian nationalities Kichwa, Shuar, Achuar, Waorani, Sapara, Andwa, Shiwiar, Cofán, Siona, Secoya and Kijus — rejects the imposition of the current text of the Free, Prior and Informed Consultation (FPIC) law drafted without due consultation with our people. This process led by the Ecuadorian state, violates the core principle of the law: the recognition of the right to consent and self-determination.

To the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court, the Ecuadorian Government, the Ecuadorian society and to the World:

The Indigenous peoples in Ecuador have been subject to historical and systematic violations of our rights to self-determination, to prior, free and informed consultation and consent, and to pre-legislative consultation by the Ecuadorian State.

A development model based on extractivism has imposed regulations and policies that have destroyed  our sacred territories, which are our source of life, culture and spirituality.

The systematic dispossession and the lack of acknowledgement  of our rights to land property have turned our territories  converting them in an unconsulted and arbitrary manner, which has translated into restrictions and charges incompatible with our ways of life. 

 The concession and unconsulted delivery of our territories in favour of mining, oil, agroindustry, and hydroelectric transnational companies, constitutes an illegal act and therefore void. 

Given the government’s interest in imposing its political agendas and institutional priorities and,

Taking in account the historical moment in which the Constitutional Court of Ecuador will soon rule on the cases of violation of the right to prior consultation of the Waorani of Pastaza, the A’i Kofán of Sinangoe and the Kichwa Indigenous People of Sarayaku, 

Faced with a “prior consultation bill” defined without our participation or consent in the National Assembly, a text that responds solely to the Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Resources interests to unconstitutionally regulate our right to prior consultation and consent through executives decrees who look after private economic interests.


Our territory! Our right! Our decision!

The Indigenous peoples and nationalities of Ecuador are holders of inalienable rights, recognized in the Constitution of the Republic and various international instruments. Ecuador is a plurinational State, and therefore the State has the obligation to incorporate our interests as Indigenous peoples within the framework and general interests of the nation.

OUR TERRITORY is where we develop and where our existence as Indigenous peoples makes sense. The Government and now the National Assembly do not understand and do not want to understand that all of our territory is connected and depends on a fragile balance and a sacred harmony. Our territory is not an oil well, nor a gold mine, nor a palm plantation, nor a vacant space to impose “development” projects such as hydroelectrics. It is our house, the house of our spirits, our pharmacy, our supermarket, our school, our temple. We have the inalienable right to maintain our historical relationships with our territories, including their economic, social, environmental, cultural and spiritual balances.

OUR RIGHT is to consultation and prior, free and informed consent to any project or activity that may affect our territories and to any law, decree or administrative act that affects our life or territory. But also our right is to SELF-DETERMINATION, to decide our ways of governing, making decisions and to freely seek economic, social and cultural development. Prior consultation without consent violates our right to self-determination and represents a mockery of our forms of self-government. Consultation without consent would turn these constitutional and international rights into a mere formality for the government, which leads us to deception, abuse, and division. For us, the violation of our right to consultation means the violation of our right to water, health, culture, territory, and a healthy environment.

OUR DECISION is collective and firm. We live the FPIC as part of our culture and decision making process, within our communities and nationalities. Consultation and consent mean that the vision and decision of an entire community is respected, and to achieve this, we work collectively in our own spaces. It is as if each of us puts ingredients in a collective pot that is cooked over low heat. Each community  cooks its decision in a different way.  However, we all cook decisions TOGETHER in our communities because – for good or for bad – we are ALL going to eat the benefits or consequences together. What does this mean? That collective decisions involve a process of thought, of debate within our communities, of listening to our Elders and understanding that the results of this process -extraction or not- have consequences for our territories and for the lives of those who inhabit them : Nature, ourselves, but also, our spiritual beings.

Vis a vis this reality, a differentiated approach and methodology in consultation by the State is needed, one that is aligned unrestrictedly to the international instruments that protect our rights.

The territories are ours. The rights are ours. The decision is ours. The call  to the Ecuadorian civil society and the world is to join us. We have shown that Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities are the ones who most effectively protect biodiversity, forests and water sources; and therefore,, life. By not protecting our rights, the Ecuadorian government puts us at risk of physical and cultural extermination.  Furthermore, nature, the Amazon headwaters that start in the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Amazon basin as a whole is at risk, making humanity more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.


Media contacts: 
Andrés Tapia, CONFENIAE Communication Officer: +593 98 446 5175
Alicia Guzman, Amazon Advisor,
Interviews available in Spanish and English