Statement by the Nordic Sami Council at the 6th Session of the UNWGIP - August 1988
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Samiraddi THE NORDIC SAMI COUNCIL
Nordiska Sameeradet El Consejo Nordico Saame
Pohjoismaiden Saamelais- Le Conseil Saame Nordique
SF-99980 Ohcejohka Utsjoki
Tele. 9697-71 351
United Nations Working Group
on Indigenous Populations
1-5 August 1988
Agenda Item 5
Submitted by The Nordic Saami Council
On the behalf of the Nordic Saami Council, representing the
Saami people, I want to make some brief remarks refering to
item 5 on the agenda.
Madame Chairman, We would like to express our appreciation
that You have opened a new stage in the effort to develop
international recognition of fundamental rights of
indigenous peoples. We also note in this regard the
constructive comments made in response to your Working Paper
by Professor Danilo Turk, and the ECOSOC endorsement of the
preparation on an outline for a study on treaties involving
indigenous peoples by Professor Miguel Alfonso-Martinez. In
order to contribute to this ongoing process, we offer the
following comments on the Working Paper:
1. Our rights to self-determination, must be expressly
acknowledged. In addition self-determination should be the
primary theme of the declaration.
2. Our land rights are TERRITORIAL rights and must described
in these terms. Our needs are not met simply by referring to
land. The concept of TERRITORY includes, land of course, but
also includes our distinct relationship to the land, waters
and sea, as PEOPLES, and the full enjoyment of all resources
within our boundaries.
3. Our rights to resources must include the subsoil and
coastal zones. For many indigenous peoples, access to marine
resources and the ability to protect those resources from
over-exploitation by others is essential to economic well-
being and often to economic survival.
4. Treaties with indigenous peoples and treaties which
acknowledge the rights of indigenous peoples, such as
borders crossing rights, must be faithfully and consistently
5. In situations where an indigenous people has been divided
by an international frontier, states must be obliged to
permit free and continuous culture, social, economic, and
political relations to be maintained.
6. Indigenous territories and resources must be effectively
safeguarded against contamination and degradation. The
report by the World Commission on Environmental and
Development, also called the "Brundtland Report" should be
carefully considered in this context.
7. The relationship between indigenous peoples and states
must be based entirely on our consent, freely expressed
through our own authentic institutions.
8. I the Saami culturpolitical program adopted by the 8th
Saami Conference in 1972, the preamble starts with the
wordings "We are Saamis, and want to be Saamis, without
being more our less then other peoples in the world." I want
to emphasise that we should not be viewed as "minorities or
ethnic groups" under international law. We are distinct
peoples or nations.
Once again, Madame Chairman the profound testimony that we
have herd from the indigenous representatives during the
review of developments and the mixed reactions of
governments to the information provided, underlines the
urgent need for a strong and effective recognition of
indigenous rights. We believe that an effective and
meaningful declaration must contain a clear recognition of
these basic principles.
Thank You, Madame Chairman
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