fredag 19 juli 2024
Per-Olof Nutti speaking at the Parliamentary Conference of the Barents Region in Haparanda.

Speech by Per-Olof Nutti at the 9th Parliamentary Conference of the Barents region

Seminar 3 – Green Transport and Sustainable Solutions for the Future.

Fellow Barents parliamentarians,  
Friends of Barents cooperation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to start with a bold statement arguing with a flavour of irony that the indigenous peoples in general are the real experts and executors of green transport and sustainable solutions, both in the past, but also hopefully in the future. Taking in considerations that Amazonas is burning in the same way as one of the major Saudi oil facilities, both caused by mankind, should challenge us to think outside of the box. The ever-ending economic growth and unsustainable modernisation have some limitation. Take this as humble introductory reminder.

Today when indigenous peoples almost are equal partners, for instance in the Barents Cooperation, we must also share our common burden.

At first allow me to mention some important development in the Barents region affecting indigenous peoples. The Nordic governments have together with the Sámi Parliaments in Finland, Norway and Sweden made a common effort for developing a new legal framework for protection of the rights of the Sámi and how the rights should be implemented through the negotiations on the Nordic Sámi Convention. The proposal is currently still under consideration in the governments of these countries after Sámi Parliaments suggested few changes to the proposal. The Sámi Parliaments view the Nordic Sámi Convention as an important standard-setting document that could be used to address the inequality in power balance between the Sámi people and the states, and to secure the fundamental human rights for the Sámi people.

From a Sámi perspective, reconciliation is seen as a prerequisite for the effective implementation of the human rights of the Sámi and for the shaping of a stronger relationship between the states and the Sámi people. In May 2017 the Sámi Parliament and the Finnish prime minister agreed to start the work of establishing a truth and reconciliation process to properly address the long-standing injustices faced by the indigenous Sámi people. The process is under preparations. On the Norwegian side the Norwegian Parliament run over the Norwegian government and decided to establish a commission to investigate the norwegianisation policy and injustice against the Sámi and Kven and Norwegian Finns. The Swedish government have just recently likewise announced that they also will start a reconciliations procedure. In Russia we also notice steps to recognize indigenous peoples hardships, for instance the Nenets peoples efforts and contribution defending Russia during the Second World War. This is a way to promote common understanding and trust.

There are also parallel discussions on strengthening the consultation and negotiation arrangements between the Sámi Parliaments and the states in all three countries. The UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) visited Finland in 2018, in its first country engagement under its revised mandate and provided technical legal advice on how the Sámi Parliament Act should be revised in order to implement international human rights standards. During EMRIP visit it was difficult to avoid the discussion on the planned railway to the Arctic Sea. This is indeed a very good example of a “mal-function” in the interaction between the Finnish state and the Sámi people. The Sámi Parliament in Finland have strongly opposed the Arctic Railway plans, arguing that both international and national law give the Sámi people the right to consultations conducted in good faith in order to fulfil the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in matters like this. They fear that Arctic Railway will have huge impacts on nature and exploitation of the Arctic’s natural resources such as unfragmented forests threatening Sámi culture as these forests are essential for traditional Sámi reindeer herding.

It's notable that the state of Finland has studied the financial and other questions concerning the Arctic Railway. It was known in advance that, due to the significant costs of the construction and a relatively low projected use capacity, the project will not be financially feasible. The Regional Council of Lapland ignores these studies and wants to include the Arctic Railroad to the land use plan of the Northernmost Lapland.

In this context we note that ministers of infrastructure and transportation in the Barents region just recently adopted a joint declaration and an action plan concerning transportation and infrastructure. In the declaration preamble part, the importance of including indigenous peoples all stages of decision making is underlined, but how this is going to be implemented is not outlined in the very aspiring action plan. This means that conflict level between indigenous peoples and transport and other infrastructure plans in the Barents region will probably increase, sorry to say.

In closing I want to challenge the parliamentarians in the Barents member countries to take necessary steps to recognise the rights of indigenous peoples. On the Swedish side, partly also in Finland and Norway, the parliamentarians have almost abdicated from their duties to take necessary actions in order to fulfil their obligations towards indigenous peoples in accordance with their constitutions and international law. In Sweden this reality has forced Sámi people to litigations in courts to protect their rights and livelihoods. As we are sitting here in Haparanda there are legal proceedings going on in the Swedish Supreme Court. The court case is about Sámi hunting and fishing rights and it's a local Sámi community versus the Swedish state. So – why not adopt the ILO Convention 169 and the Nordic Sámi Convention? Then we can start the real talks.

Thank you.


Per-Olof Nutti
Chair of the Sámi Parliamentary Council 

© Sametinget 2024
Uppdaterad: 2019-09-19

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