The Indigenous People of Norway: Enough is Enough!
As Norway raises its head in the world of global governance, the Saami, Nenets and Veps: the indigenous peoples of the Barents region came together to share their concerns at the 2nd Barents Indigenous Peoples’ Congress and a conference on Indigenous Peoples, Business & Environment in February 2012. Over 100 representatives raised their voices in Kirkene, Norway.
Dr. James Anaya, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples opened the conference focusing on developments in international customary law expressing the indigenous rights:
- Of the state’s duty to protect indigenous peoples
- The duty of corporations to respect indigenous peoples
- The need to have remedial mechanisms in place when states and corporations fail on the two first-mentioned accounts.
The 2nd Barents Indigenous Peoples’ Congress was held at the same time as the Kirkenes conference that explored further exploitation of more of the regions natural resources such as mineral, oil, and gas extraction from the indigenous areas of the North. This followed the announcement early the same month by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg that the Norwegian government plan to begin seismic surveys in summer 2012 in the search for oil and gas.
A resolution was adopted on 9-10 February 2012 by the Indigneous Congress, which includes the following:
Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination, and by virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.
Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions.
States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.
Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired,
Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership in accordance with their customs and traditions.
Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands, territories and other resources.
States have the duty to consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploration of mineral, water or other resources,
In response to the mapping of the regions natural resources, the resolution demands that:
Governments should establish reliable methods of monitoring the development of industrial projects, such as dams, mining, wind power and offshore oil and gas exploration, to ensure that indigenous people’s rights to effective consultation, free, prior and informed consent, compensation and mitigation measures are fully respected.
No relocation of indigenous peoples shall take without their free, prior and informed consent and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.
In the event that an indigenous community or people provides its free, prior and informed consent to relocation, it is essential that the Government authorities and the indigenous community or people concerned agree on a relocation site, and that their land and resource rights are legally guaranteed, and that they receive compensation and all necessary financial and technical support for the establishment of their new community in a manner they choose.
As members of mainstream societies around the world lay claim through the Occupy Movement, and Arab Spring, so too do the earthkeepers, the indigenous without whom much of our biodiversity and knowledge of the laws of nature would have been lost in our rush to exploit anything that reaps money, and abuse anything and anyone who presents a justifiable obstacle.
“Barents Indigenous Peoples Raise Their Voice.” http://www.barentsobserver.com/barents-indigenous-peoples-raise-their-voice.5021303-116320.html
“Norway to Start Seismic Surveys in the Barents Sea.” http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/smk/press-center/Press-releases/2012/norway-to-start-seismic-surveys-in-the-b.html?id=671815