The story of a legal transplant: The right to free, prior and informed consent in sub-Saharan Africa

  • Roesch R
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Land grabs in sub-Saharan Africa have in the recent past attracted considerable attention. Different strategies for confronting the problem are being discussed; one of them is the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). This right seeks to balance power asymmetries between foreign corporations or the state and local communities by ensuring their participation in matters concerning their land. The article argues that FPIC is still in the vertical legal transplantation process in sub-Saharan Africa. Legal transplantation has two components: appropriation and translation. It is a multi-pronged process, in which FPIC is transplanted from the global to the (sub)-regional or national level, mostly by states. This is either the basis for the transplantation to the local level or the norm is directly transferred from the global to the local level. The examination of the legal transplantation process includes an analysis of the current state of recognition in sub-Saharan Africa. Besides that, it will be assessed whether diverging understandings have been developed. Moreover, the practical and structural limits of FPIC, which could constitute an obstacle to the full transplantation of FPIC, will be assessed. These include power inequalities within communities as well as the structural inequalities of the global order. Whether the legal transplantation will succeed ultimately depends on the communities in question.




Roesch, R. (2016). The story of a legal transplant: The right to free, prior and informed consent in sub-Saharan Africa. African Human Rights Law Journal, 16(2), 505–531.

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