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Stefan Kirchner

Abstract

Indigenous peoples often have a special relationship with their natural environment and depend on it heavily. Under current legal and political conditions, though, indigenous peoples usually are not in control of the natural resources of their homeland. Especially the extractive industries can pose a serious challenge to indigenous livelihoods. This is particularly the case in parts of Russia where gas is extracted from indigenous homelands, as well as in Scandinavia and Finland. This text is used to show possible legal avenues for indigenous peoples to have a say in decisions concerning mining, gas exploitation and similar permits for lands which are used but not owned by indigenous people, using as an example the emerging issue of mining in the Sámi home area in Finland. Mining plays a particularly important role in Sápmi, the home of the Sámi people, albeit currently still more so on the Swedish, Norwegian and Russian sides than on the Finnish side of Sápmi. Finland is considering the ratification of ILO Convention No. 169 (ILO 169). Therefore, this text looks beyond ILO 169 at international legal norms which already apply to Finland and at how Finnish law gives to the indigenous people, in particular through the Sámi Parliament of Finland, in the administrative law processes concerning the exploration and exploitation of subterranean natural resources.

Stefan Kirchner