Lao PDR Country Report: Customary Tenure in relation to Free, Prior and Informed Consent and Existing Safeguards for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities
October 3, 2023

Laos is currently revising a few policies and legislations to improve the management of land and natural resources within the country. Some of these policies focus on respecting customary land-use rights, promoting public participation in investment, ensuring the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) process, and empowering women in all areas of work, especially in land and natural resource management.

However, there are gaps and complexities in the implementation of these laws. It has been found that some laws have inconsistencies or contradictions in their articles, such as Article 64 of the Forest Law and Article 130 of the Land Law. These inconsistencies should be addressed, as forests and forest lands are closely linked to the livelihoods and customary uses of local people.

The results of interviews with government agencies such as Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry indicate that they do not yet fully understand the full FPIC process. While most of them are familiar with community consultation, most projects only conduct it once and most often provide only positive information to villagers rather than negative. However, government officials have highlighted some key examples of respecting local community decisions, such as canceling concessions in sacred areas.

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