Dear Madam Chairperson, Dear representatives from my indigenous sisters and brothers. Dear representatives from the Governments present here. Distinguished colleeges.
My name is Ande Somby. I am an associate professor at Law Faculty at Tromso University in Norway. I am a Saami person, and my topics are Saami Rights and indigenous legal philosophy.
I want to contribute to the debate on development of the Human Rights as an indigenous academic legal professional. I have also agreed to address some remarks on behalf of the Saami Council.
The concept of Human Rights is only one example of the fact that indigenous peoples are faced to a threefolded agenda:
All these tasks require much work. The Nordic countries have a general policy in setting good examples on the International scene. Norway has ratified the ILO convention.2 Even if Finland is the only Nordic Country that in explicit terms has recognised the Saami People as an Indigenous People in their constitution, it is sad and embarrasing for all Saamis that neither Finland, Sweden nor Russia has to this date ratified the ILO convention.3
When faced to the second task - to describe and to provide documentation, we have to trace and secure evidences for the events in question. We have to apply the incidents to the relevant legal standards and we have to communicate our legal findings in appropriate ways. However we have quite long practise to do this part of the work, and even if it does cause a lot of work - we do not have much trouble to fulfil that task.
The third task - to negotiate about the concept of Human Rights is more complicated. We often meet the border of the traditional concept in questions like:
The positions we ourselves take to those questions are clear. Yes they are. But at the end of the day we have to face either National courts or International Courts. Those courts are populated with members from the mainstream societies, and they are often very traditionalistic in their legal practises. Our people on the other hand are often alone and weak when they meet those courts.
We therefore need to negotiate also on the deep structures of legal methodologies. That can be a path to get acceptance for indigenous traditional legal knowledge. Our task is both to translate our traditions in order to make them understandable to legal professionals from the mainstream societies. Our task is also to conceptualise our present lives and we have to visualise our future in comprehensible ways. All those tasks we have to do without loosing ourselves and our goals.
Let me point out a brief little sketch how these thoughts would apply to human Rights for Indigenous peoples and contribute to positive developments.
As I understand there are only 3 Human rights in question.
The Right to a past contains for example The right to maintain our traditions, Loss of languages is one of the concrete problems to face under that aspect.
The Right to a present contains all the classical Human Rights as the right to live in peace, not be killed, tortured, the right to free expressions. But it also contains negotiations about the early mentioned points, f. ex the question of Individual or collective Rights.
The Right to a future contains f. example the issue of Land Rights, Issues of A safe environment Issues of Relevant educational Programs for our children and youth.
Dear Madam Chair
In order to fulfil both tasks we all need to do our best in order to get indigenous professionals who would be able to open these negotiations. We also need to encourage friendly professionals from the mainstream societies to work with these topics. We need both positive statements and help to fund such activities. We need help from our elders, our storytellers our Poets. We need help from you all present here. And we need help from those who are not present here.In closing my statement I want to adress following recomondations:
I am grateful for your attention, and I wish you Madam and all you others present in the room all the best.