Sami Culture - Sami Policy - Norway

Norway

The Sami have been recognized as an indigenous people in Norway (1990 according to ILO convention 169 as described below), and hence, according to international law, the Sami people in Norway are entitled special protection and rights. The legal foundation of the Sami policy is:

  • Article 110a of the Norwegian Constitution.
  • The Sami Act (act of 12 June 1987 No. 56 concerning the Sami Parliament (the Sámediggi) and other legal matters pertaining to the Samis).

The constitutional amendment states: "It is the responsibility of the authorities of the State to create conditions enabling the Sami people to preserve and develop its language, culture and way of life." This provides a legal and political protection of the Sami language, culture and society. In addition the "amendment implies a legal, political and moral obligation for Norwegian authorities to create an environment conducive to the Samis themselves influencing on the development of the Sami community" (ibid.).

The Sami Act provides special rights for the Sami people (ibid.):

  • "...the Samis shall have their own national Sami Parliament elected by and amongst the Samis" (Chapter 1–2).
  • The Sami people shall decide the area of activity of the Norwegian Sami Parliament.
  • The Sami and Norwegian languages have equal standing in Norway (section 15; Chapter 3 contains details with regards to the use of the Sami language).

In addition, the Sami have special rights to reindeer husbandry.

The Norwegian Sami Parliament also elects 50% of the members to the board of the Finnmark Estate, which controls 95% of the land in the county of Finnmark.

Norway has also accepted international conventions, declarations and agreements applicable to the Sami as a minority and indigenous people including:

  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Right (1966). Article 27 protects minorities, and indigenous peoples, against discrimination: "In those states in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities, shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or use their own language."
  • ILO Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (1989). The convention states that rights for the indigenous peoples to land and natural resources are recognized as central for their material and cultural survival. In addition, indigenous peoples should be entitled to exercise control over, and manage, their own institutions, ways of life and economic development in order to maintain and develop their identities, languages and religions, within the framework of the states in which they live.
  • The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965).
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).
  • The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979).
  • The Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1995).
  • The Council of Europe's Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (1992).
  • The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).

In 2007, the Norwegian Parliament passed the new Reindeer Herding Act acknowledging siida as the basic institution regarding land rights, organization, and daily herding management.

Read more about this topic:  Sami Culture, Sami Policy

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