Thursday, September 13, 2007

Saamis celebrate adoption of UN Indigenous Rights Declaration


- Press release by the Saami Council and the Saami parliaments -

The Saami Council and the Saami parliaments in Finland, Norway and Sweden celebrate the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The adoption of the Declaration constitutes a historical milestone in the struggle for the recognition of indigenous peoples’ human rights and fundamental freedoms, ending Centuries of marginalisation and discrimination, and confirming that indigenous peoples are peoples, equal in dignity and rights with all other peoples.

- We particularly welcome the Declaration’s explicit acknowledgment of indigenous peoples being entitled to the unqualified right to self-determination, including the right of the Saami people to freely determine our own economic, social and cultural development and control and decide over our own natural resources. The Declaration further underlines our right to strengthen our distinct political, legal, economical institutions, including our publicly elected Saami parliaments and the Saami Parliamentarian Council, but also traditional local economic and cultural structures such as reindeer herding communities (renbeteslag, samebyar and siida) and coastal Sea Saami communities, states the Saami Council and the Saami parliaments.

- In addition to the right to self-determination, we place great emphasis on the progressive nature of the provisions in the Declaration pertaining to indigenous peoples’ right to own, use and control the lands, territories and natural resources. The Declaration proclaims that Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden can no longer regard territories traditionally utilized by the Saami as the property of the State or third parties. Rather the Declaration obliges the States to recognize that the Saami are the owners of their traditional territories and natural resources. This for instance means that the Saami territories can no longer be used for industrial or other activities without the free, prior and informed consent of the Saami, and without them directly benefiting from such resource utilization. In addition, the Saami have the right to restitution of or, when this is not possible, to just and fair compensation for, lands, territories and natural resources taken without our consent. We now expect Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden to initiate a process through which lands taken during the colonisation are returned to the Saami people, says the Saami Council and the Saami parliaments.

The UN Declaration goes much further than the ILO Convention No. 169 and the proposed Nordic Saami Convention. With the adoption of the UN Declaration, containing international minimum standards for indigenous peoples’ rights, Finland, Russia and Sweden must consequently adopt the ILO Convention No. 169 and the Nordic States the proposed Nordic Saami Convention, without further delay.

The Saami Council and the Saami parliaments are looking forward to commencing the work with implementing the Declaration, in close partnership with the Finnish, Norwegian, Russian and Swedish peoples, and their government and elected parliaments.


For further information, please contact:

Pauliina Feodoroff, President of the Saami Council, tel. no +358 405 004 145
Mattias Åhrén, Head of the Saami Council’s Human Rights Unit; +47 47 37 91 61
Anne Nuorgam, Vice President of the Saami parliament in Finland; +358 40 53 43 316
Aili Keskitalo, President of Saami parliament in Norway, tel. no. +47 97 129 305
Lars-Anders Baer, President of the Saami parliament in Sweden, tel. no. +46 316 20 56

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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