Sami people lives both in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. (Map: Google)
Sami people lives both in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. (Map: Google)
Marion Aslaksen Ravna
Marion Aslaksen Ravna (20) comes from Deatnu/Tana, and is a student at UiT The Norwegian Arctic University, where she studies jurisprudence.
17/04/2015

The Arctic region has a magnitude of people, cultures and nations, spread out across great distances. Among them are the different indigenous people of the region.

I belong to the Sámi People, who lives in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

The indigenous people have traditions for utilizing the natural resources as a living in their traditional areas. The changes in the environment threatens these traditional ways of life. At the same time, business is rapidly expanding in the Arctic, demanding more area for industry exploiting. In addition to these factors, the legal situation for indigenous people is not yet adequately secured.

The rights of indigenous people are expressed in several international declarations and conventions. Two important documents are the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and ILO Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal People in Independent Countries.

The most important rights for indigenous peoples are the right to self-determination and the right to ownership and possession of their traditional territories.

It will be exciting the coming years how the legal development in the indigenous law, both nationally and internationally developes. How will different states secure indigenous people their opportunity to continue their life, and develop their economy and culture? And how will the indigenous law adapt to the changing environment?

Norway, where I live, has ratified the ILO Convention No. 169 as well as the UNDRIP, and has recognized my people’s rights. To date, Norway and Denmark are the only states that have ratified the ILO C 169.
The Swedish parliament decided not long ago not to ratify the ILO C 169, and the Finnish parliament postponed the decision about ratifying the convention this winter. Russia has not yet made attempts to accede it.

This leaves the Sámi people, not only separated by borders, but also separated in juridical matters.

A consequence of this is for example that my family have an entirely different protection of our culture, language and way of life, than my friends a few hundred kilometres further east, on the Russian side of the traditional Sámi lands.  

April 24.-25. the Arctic Council will hold their ministerial meeting of the Canadian Chairmanship.

The Kiruna Declaration was adopted by the previous ministerial meeting held in Kiruna, Sweden, in 2013. The Declaration express that the Arctic council recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples, and see that a strengthened collaboration with indigenous peoples is needed when dealing with climate changes.

An concrete goal in the decleration was to request the Senior Arctic Officials to recommend how to increase awareness on traditional living of Arctic indigenous people, and to present a report on this at the next Ministerial meeting this month.

I am looking forward to see the report presented by the Senior Arctic Officials. I hope this work has made the indigenous people´s lives more visible in their home states.

I also hope this work will call the attention to the need for vindication of the right to continue these traditional ways of life, and that the work will shed light on the legal inequality between the indigenous people of the north.

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On Friday the 25th of April the USA will assume Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. In the days prior to the meeting, future leaders of the High North are attending a workshop in Ottawa to discuss the future of the North. High North News will be present in Ottawa, but ahead of the workshop the norwegian delegates will present their thoughts and opinions by blogging for High North News. Todays post is written by Marion Aslaksen Ravna, from Deatnu/Tana.  

Read more blog posts from the Future Arctic Leaders: 

Can the Arctic be sheltered?
In cod we trust
With a compass in my pocket

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