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Sisällysluettelo: Politiikka, järjestäytyminen ja organisaatiot

Irja Seurujärvi-Kari



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Indigenous people

The UN has conducted studies on the emergence of discrimination and racism in Latin America since the 1960s. One of the results of these studies was the 1969 report "Measures taken in connexion with the protection of indigenous peoples". This report proposes a more comprehensive survey of indigenous peoples. The Saami are also mentioned there for the first time among the other indigenous peoples. The concept of an indigenous people is then defined as follows in the final report of a UN study conducted in 1971-1984 by the Special Rapporteur Jose R. Martinez Cobo.

"Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories, or in parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems."

Subsequently, the ILO Convention of 1989 (Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in independent countries) included the following definition of indigenous peoples:

1. This Convention applies to: ... (b) peoples in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonisation or the establishment of present state boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions.

2.Self-identification as indigenous or tribal shall be regarded as a fundamental criterion for determining the groups to which the provisions of this Convention apply.

To be an indigenous people in the sense of the 1989 ILO Convention and thus entitled to demand the rights of an indigenous people, such as ownership of land and rights to natural resources, the group in question must meet at least two objective criteria and one subjective criterion. The first objective criterion is for the group to be descended from the indigenous population. Secondly, it is required to have preserved completely or in part its own social, economic, cultural and political institutions. The subjective criterion of the definition is self-identification, i.e. the group in question must consider itself to be an indigenous people. The definition of an indigenous people in the ILO Convention states as a prime condition the fact that the people concerned regard themselves as an indigenous or tribal people. Self-identification is thus an important, though not decisive, criterion. This principle above all implies that a group that does not regard itself as an indigenous people must not be treated as such. It does not mean that a group is an indigenous people only because it considers itself to be one.

Norway and Denmark are the only Nordic countries that have ratified the ILO Convention, although the possibilities of doing so are being studied in Finland and Sweden. In Norway, Finland and Sweden, the Saami have been recognized as an indigenous people as defined in the ILO Convention.

It is estimated that at present there are some 300 million inhabitants belonging to indigenous people in over 70 countries. Of the 5,000−6,000 different cultures existing in the world, indigenous peoples account for 80%, but only for 2% of the world's population. Indigenous peoples have been organized nationally and internationally since the 1970s, when the World Council of Indigenous Peoples was established. The UN's Working Group on Indigenous Populations, founded in 1982, is an international forum in the field. The Saami are an indigenous people of Finland, Sweden and Norway, and the only indigenous people of the European Union. The concept of indigenous people has now become established in international discussion and the debate on human rights.

Irja Seurujärvi-Kari



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