The Fulfilment of Norway’s International Legal Obligations to the Sámi – Assessed by the Protection of Rights to Lands, Waters and Natural Resources

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights
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  • 1 University of Tromsø, The Arctic University of Norway;
  • 2 University of Lapland, Finland

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During the two last decades of the 20th century, Norway has undertaken several commitments pursuant to international law that protect Sámi lands, culture, language and way of life. Norway’s 1988 constitutional amendment framed after the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Article 27 and the ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention no. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries in 1990 are the most prominent of these. The adoption of the 1999 Norwegian Human Rights Act incorporating the ICCPR as internal Norwegian law should also be mentioned. This article examines how Norway complies with the international legal obligations the country has undertaken to protect the indigenous Sámi culture, in relation to land-based renewal resources, marine resources, and mineral resources.

  • 9

    NOU 1984: 18; NOU 1993: 34 Rett til og forvaltning av land og vann i Finnmark; NOU 1994: 21 Bruk av land og vann i Finnmark i et historisk perspektiv; NOU 1997: 4 Naturgrunnlaget for samisk kultur; NOU 1997: 5 Urfolks landrettigheter etter folkerett og utenlandsk rett; NOU 2001: 34 Samiske sedvaner og rettsoppfatninger; NOU 2007: 13 Den nye sameretten (Sámi Rights Committee II); and NOU 2007: 14 Samisk naturbruk og rettssituasjon fra Hedmark til Troms (Researchers under the Sámi Rights Committee II).

  • 10

    NOU 1984: 18 Om samers rettsstilling, p. 441.

  • 17

    NOU 1993: 34 Rett og forvaltning av land og vann i Finnmark, p. 70.

  • 18

    G. Ulfstein, ‘Indigenous Peoples Right to Land’, Max Planck UNYB 8 (2004) pp. 21–23. See also the Norwegian discussion in NOU 1993: 34, pp. 70–72 and NOU 1997: 5 Urfolks landrettigheter etter folkerett og utenlands rett, pp. 33–37; the latter with an interpretation more consistent with the current view that indigenous peoples are entitled to the recognition of ownership.

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  • 31

    NOU 1994: 18, p. 441.

  • 32

    NOU 2007: 13, p. 191.

  • 36

    Åhren, supra note 19.

  • 38

    Skogvang, supra note 16, p. 329.

  • 55

    Finnmarkskommisjonen, Rapport felt 1, p. 64, Rapport Felt 2, p. 65; and Rapport Felt 3, p. 51.

  • 59

    Anaya, supra note 39, para. 53.

  • 60

    NOU 1997: 4 Naturgrunnlaget for samisk kultur [The Natural basis for Sámi Culture], section 5.6.

  • 61

    NOU 2008: 5, 45, with further references to the report Sametingets melding om fiske som næring og kultur i kyst- og fjordområdene (2004).

  • 62

    NOU 2008: 5, 40. See also Innst. O. nr. 80 (2004–2005) Innstilling fra justiskomiteen om lov om rettsforhold og forvaltning av grunn og naturressurser i Finnmark fylke [The Law Bill from the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Justice], p. 30.

  • 68

    NOU 2008: 5, p. 13.

  • 73

    NOU 2008: 5, p. 14.

  • 75

    In NOU 2008: 5, p. 14, it is proposed a greater degree of regional autonomy in the management of fisheries in Finnmark. A new body, the Finnmark Fishery Agency, should provide the necessary fishing permits for the implementation of the right of fishing and otherwise work to promote sea and coastal fishing.

  • 79

    Anaya, supra note 39, para. 54.

  • 94

    NOU 2007: 13, p. 850. Article 7, second sentence reads: “In addition, they shall participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and programmes for national and regional development which may affect them directly.”

  • 95

    Graver and Ulfstein, supra note 21.

  • 96

    NOU 2007: 13, p. 44.

  • 98

    NOU 2007: 13 p. 1044

  • 101

    Åhren, supra note 19. See also Anaya, ibid., para. 56, stating that “in general, laws and policies in the Nordic States with respect to natural resource extraction and development do not provide sufficient protections for Sami rights and livelihoods, …”.

  • 102

    Åhren, supra note 19.

  • 106

    Skogvang, supra note 16, pp. 343 – 344, where it is also shown that the Sámi Parliament has made its own Mineral strategy (Sametinget mineralveileder (2010)). See also NRK Nordnytt <http://www.nrk.no/nordnytt/nsr-onsker-rammer-for-gruvedrift-1.11553998>, visited 10 March 2014 and Anaya, supra note 39, para. 56.

  • 110

    Skogvang, supra note 16, p. 343.

  • 111

    NOU 2008: 5, p. 14.

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