Connie K. Chan


Lisa Laplante and Suzanne Spears undertake an admirable agenda in

their article, Extracting Without Conflict: The Case for Community Consent

Processes. Employing an anthropological approach to understanding

community resistance to extractive industry projects, the authors posit that

the escalating conflicts between extractive industry (EI) firms and host

communities can be "better understood as disputes over community

control of resources and the right of community members to control the

direction of their lives." Their proposed solution is that El firms

voluntarily engage in consent processes with host communities, with a

commitment to obtaining their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC)

before receiving legal authorization and financial approval of an extractive

project. It is obvious that host communities would favor a process that

accords them full participatory rights -including the right to withhold

their consent-in development decisions affecting the land and resources

on which they subsist. Laplante and Spears present the more complicated

case for why EI firms should likewise be amenable to voluntary FPIC

procedures, relying on the fact that community opposition can prove to be