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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


Denmark


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TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 6 7 7


1. Recognition of land rights/title

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • The Act on Greenland Self-Government (2009) provides for access to independence and sovereignty for Greenland. In this legislation that was implemented in June 2009, the people of Greenland can, through a referendum, be granted independence from the Kingdom of Denmark. As chapter 8, section 21 (4) reads: “Independence for Greenland shall imply that Greenland assumes sovereignty over the Greenland territory.”
  • Prior to the 2009 self-government legislation, the Greenland Home Rule Act (1978) stated that, “The resident population of Greenland has fundamental rights to the natural resources of Greenland” (section 8.1). Despite the ambiguity of this provision, many legal opinions generally recognized that Greenland could claim full ownership of all surface and subsurface resources (Dahl 2005, 160).
  • Under the Act on Mineral Resources in Greenland, the exploitation of subsurface resources is administered jointly between Danish and Greenland authorities. The act affords Greenland a veto on all matters relating to prospecting and exploitation of subsurface resources, including hydro-electricity. Since 1998, the administration of all mineral resource activities has been in the hands of Home Rule authorities (Dahl 2005, 169).
  • In 2009, Danish legislation was passed declaring that revenue from mineral resource activities in Greenland shall accrue to the Greenland Self-Government authorities (see chapter 3, section 7 of the Act on Greenland Self-Government).


2. Recognition of self-government rights

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • In 2009, the Danish Parliament passed, assented and ratified the Act on Greenland Self-Government. Chapter 1, section 1 of the act reads: “The Greenland Self-Government authorities shall exercise legislative and executive power in the fields of responsibility taken over. Courts of law that are established by the Self-Government authorities shall exercise judicial powers in Greenland in all fields of responsibility. Accordingly, the legislative power shall lie with the Greenland Parliament, the executive power with the Greenland Government, and the judicial power with the courts of law.”
  • Under the authority of the Greenland Home Rule Act (1978), Greenland has assumed powers of self-government over several areas of domestic affairs, such as education, the economy (including fishing and trade), taxation, health, and infrastructure. However, the Home Rule authorities rely on the Danish government (in the form of block grants and other transfers) for about 50 percent of public expenditures (Dahl 2005, 152).
  • The Greenland Home Rule Act created a quasi-parliamentary system, consisting of an elected assembly, called the Landsting, and an administration headed by an executive, called the Landsstyre. Members of the Landsting elect the executive and the cabinet, which is headed by the premier (the chair of the Landsstyre).
  • The Greenland Parliament is elected by a common vote and does not restrict the right to vote for candidates to ethnic Greenlandic people. Any individual who has lived in Greenland for more than six months prior to the election and is 18 years of age or older, is entitled to participate in elections.
  • Under the Authorization Act of 2005, Greenland has been granted the power to enter into international consultations and agreements with foreign states. These agreements address only matters where legislative and administrative powers have been transferred to Greenland, and exclude issues of national defence and security policy, or matters that apply to Denmark as a member of an international organization.
  • Through the Act on Greenland Self-Government (2009), the Self-Government authorities of Greenland may take over all fields of responsibility that have not already been assumed by the Home Rule Government, with the exemption of the following: the constitution, foreign affairs, defence and security policy, the Supreme Court, nationality, and exchange rates and monetary policy.


3. Upholding historic treaties and/or signing new treaties

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • The Danish Instructions of 1782, also called the “Instrux,” contained some form of recognition and has been described by some as a Bill of Rights for Greenland’s indigenous population. This document, however, was concerned largely with trade and wage regulations (Loukacheva 2007, 19).
  • The Instrux is not a treaty recognized in international law.


4. Recognition of cultural rights (language, hunting/fishing, religion)

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Under Home Rule, Greenland has assumed authority over cultural affairs. Under the Ministry of Culture, Education, Research and the Church, the Government of Greenland has responsibility for these broad matters, but also language policy, media, leisure activities, and cultural matters. • Section 9 of the Home Rule Act stipulated that Greenlandic is the principal language in Greenland, that Danish must be thoroughly taught, and that either language may be used for official purposes. In schools, the primary language of instruction is Greenlandic, however a great deal of public administration is conducted predominantly in Danish (Dahl 2005, 174).
  • With the passage of the Act on Greenland Self-Government (2009), Greenlandic has been declared the official language in Greenland (see Ch. 7, section 20). In accord with the Home Rule Act, the Self-Government Commission has noted that the existing legislation on public administration, which established that both Greenlandic and Danish languages can be used with respect to public matters, should continue as a matter of principle (Denmark 2009, 12).
  • Fishing and hunting is an area of jurisdiction conferred to the Greenland government. A separate government department, the Ministry of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture is responsible for legislation on national and international fisheries and hunting. Administration of legislation relating to fishing, hunting and agriculture is the responsibility of the Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture Agency.
  • “In the political discourse within Greenland, many rights are claimed for the Inuit. However, for several reasons, every demand for rights put in ethnic terms has been transformed and interpreted into rights for the territorially defined population of the island. Consequently, de jure rights are not conferred on anyone for being an indigenous person” (Loukacheva 2007, 35)


5. Recognition of customary law

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Greenlandic customary law forms part of a “hybrid” system of law unified in Danish statutes. The justice and law reforms of the 1950s did away with the distinction between Greenlandic and Danish law, however features of Greenlandic customary law are enshrined in legislation and legal practices (Loukacheva 2007).
  • The Greenland Administration of Justice Act (1951) and the Greenland Criminal Code (1954) still form the basis for the modern justice system in Greenland today. These acts allow for the more traditional and customary practices to enter Greenland’s legal environment by preserving the lay judge institution. Lay judges and lay assessors are used in Greenlandic justice, and are preferred over Danish jurists, given their close connection to the Greenlandic community and knowledge of Greenlandic customary law.
  • With the enactment of the Act on Greenland Self-Government in 2009, several fields of law will be assumed under the jurisdiction of Greenland; these are to be transferred to Greenland’s Self-Government authorities at points of time fixed through negotiations with the central authorities of the Danish state. These aspects of law include: the administration of justice, including the establishment of courts of law; criminal law; law of capacity; family law; succession law; law practice (see List II of the Schedule to the legislation).


6. Guarantees of representation/consultation in the central government

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • The Constitutional Act of Denmark of 1953 (Part IV, section 28) describes the quota system in Denmark’s Parliament, affording both the Greenlandic people, as well as those of the Faroe Island population, two seats in the national Parliament.
  • Greenland’s public administration bodies are represented in the Danish central state by the Rigsombudsmand (the High Commissioner) in Greenland. The High Commissioner is the chief of the Danish administration in Greenland. The position’s functions include control over legislation and matters concerning family law, reporting to the Danish Prime Minister’s Office, and planning and organizing meetings between home rule and Danish authorities, amongst others (Loukacheva 2007, 68).
  • The Danish state is obliged under section 13 of the Home Rule Act to consult with the Greenland home rule government before concluding international treaties that specifically affect Greenland’s interests.
  • Under section 16 of the Home Rule Act, Greenlandic authorities may request representation on Danish diplomatic missions to attend to subject matters where legislative and administrative powers have been entirely transferred to the authorities of Greenland.
  • Chapter 5, sections 17 and 18 of the Act on Greenland Self-Government (2009) stipulate that both government Bills and draft administrative orders from the Danish Parliament which may be enacted for Greenland must, before presented to Parliament or issued, be submitted to the Greenland Self-Government authorities for comments.


7. Constitutional or legislative affirmation of the distinct status of indigenous peoples

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • The Greenland Home Rule Act of 1978 proclaims that “Greenland is a distinct community within the Kingdom of Denmark” (see Chapter 1, section 1 (1) of the act).
  • The preamble of the 2009 Act on Greenland Self-Government reads: “Recognizing that the people of Greenland is a people pursuant to international law with the right of self-determination, the Act is based on a wish to foster equality and mutual respect in the partnership between Denmark and Greenland.”
  • Danish representatives to the United Nations have remarked in the past that “there was only one indigenous people in the Kingdom of Denmark: the Inuit of Greenland.” (UN 2002).


8. Support/ratification for international instruments on indigenous rights

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • Denmark ratified ILO Convention 169 Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989, in February 1996.
  • Denmark voted in favour of adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This declaration is non-binding and does not impose duties or obligations on the Danish state.

9. Affirmative action

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Affirmative action has not been introduced as a legal measure in Greenland (Loukacheva 2007, 71).

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