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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


Norway

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TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0.5 4 5


1. Recognition of land rights/title

   Partial, but very limited.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0.5

Evidence:

  • The Finnmark Act of 2005 provides that the Sami people, through prolonged use of land and water, have acquired rights to land in Finnmark (sec. 5). However, the “Finnmark Act is ethnically neutral in the sense that individual legal status is not dependent on whether one is a Sami, Norwegian or Kven or belongs to another population group” (Norway n.d., 3; italics original).
  • There is no clearly defined Sami homeland, as in Finland, but the Finnmark Act transferred approximately 95 percent of the land in Finnmark county under state ownership to the Finnmark Estate (Henriksen 2008a, 32-33).
  • The Finnmark Act establishes the Finnmark Estate, an independent legal entity which administers the land and natural resources in Finnmark country. The Finnmark Estate is governed by a board of six persons, of which the Sami Parliament elects three members.
  • The act does not, however, involve changes in the rights of use and ownership to the land in Finnmark county (Norway n.d., 5). The act established the Finnmark Commission that will study the right of ownership and right to land in Finnmark county.


2. Recognition of self-government rights

   Partial, but limited to matters of culture.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0.5 0.5

Evidence:

  • The Sami Parliament, established in 1987, is an indigenous electoral body elected among and for the Sami people in Norway. The Sami Parliament represents the Sami people in all matters concerning the Sami. The Sami Parliament has its separate electoral system with elections every fourth year.
  • The Sami Parliament is only an advisory body to the Norwegian legislature and does not constitute an order of government with jurisdiction over Sami traditional territories. The Norwegian government has the overall responsibility for Sami policy (UN 2004, para. 468).


3. Upholding historic treaties and/or signing new treaties

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • There is no evidence that Norway has ever signed a treaty with the Sami people.
  • The Lapp Kodicill, an annex to a 1751 border agreement between Norway and Sweden, details rights and duties of the Sami people. The Sami have maintained that the Lapp Kodicill has status as a binding treaty under international law, and as such confirms the signatories’ duty to respect the Sami nation.
  • In 2001, the governments of Norway, Finland and Sweden, and the Sami Parliament in the three countries, appointed an Expert Group to draft a Nordic Sami Convention. In November 2005, the Expert Group presented the draft text to the three governments and the three Sami parliaments. Negotiations have since stalled the process.
  • When signed, the Sami Convention will be a legally binding treaty between Finland, Norway and Sweden on the rights of the Sami people, and can thus be viewed as a renewal of the Lapp Kodicill (Ahren 2004, 75; Ahren 2007, 12).


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

   Yes, but recognition of specific Sami rights is limited to language.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • In 1992, Norway passed the Sami Language Act, making Sami and Norwegian both official languages in certain parts of Norway that have large Sami populations. Under this legislation, the Sami people have the right to use their mother tongue in communication with local and regional authorities (Fouberg and Hogan 2003, 58).
  • The Sami Act of 1987, most recently amended in 2003, states in section 1.5 that “Sami and Norwegian are languages of equal worth.” Pursuant to section 3.12 of the same act, a Sami Language Council has been established.
  • According to the 1999 Education Act, all students in primary and lower secondary schools in areas defined in the act as Sami districts are entitled to study and be taught in the Sami language. Outside Sami districts, any group of ten or more students who so demand, have the right to study and be taught in the Sami language.
  • Section 1.1 of the Sami Act states: “The purpose of the Act is to enable the Sami people in Norway to safeguard and develop their language, culture and way of life.”
  • The purpose of the 2005 Finnmark Act is to facilitate the management of land and natural resources in the country of Finnmark for the benefit of the residents of the county and particularly as a basis for Sami culture, reindeer husbandry and social life (section 1).
  • The act confers the rights to all residents, including the Sami, of Finnmark county to fish, fell certain trees, remove timber for home crafts, hunt and trap big and small game, pick cloudberries, and to reindeer husbandry. The act, however, does not contain provisions on sea fishing (UN 2007c, para. 37).
  • As noted above, the act is ethnically neutral and the rights are not special to the Sami. As well, all individuals must be issued a permit for such activities.
  • Additionally, Sami reindeer management was recognized through a General Agreement for the Reindeer Industry (1976) and the Reindeer Management Act (1978) (Riseth 2007, 179).


5. Recognition of customary law

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Under the assimilation policies of the 19th century, Norway revoked the recognition of Sami customary law (Ahren 2004, 88).
  • During the debate over Sami rights, the government of Norway largely ignored Sami customary conceptions of land and water rights (Eide 2001, 135).
  • Sami customary law and pastoral land tenure are largely undocumented, remaining a shared practical knowledge among Sami herders (Brantenberg 1995).


6. Guarantees of representation/consultation in the central government

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0.5 1

Evidence:

  • The demand for direct representation in the Parliament of Norway has never been a central issue for the Sami. The demand put forward by the Sami with a view to strengthening their democratic rights was a demand for their own elected body (Josefson 2003, 22).
  • The Norwegian Government and the Sami Parliament have signed an agreement specifying how consultations are to take place. Consultation procedures apply to all types of issues, such as legislative or administrative measures that may directly affect Sami interests. Consultations are not to be concluded until the Sami Parliament and the Norwegian State agree that it will be possible to reach agreement (Samediggi Sametinget n.d.).
  • The Finnmark Act of 2005 requires the consultation of the Sami in the management of land and natural resources in the area of the Finnmark Estate.


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

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0.5 1 1

Evidence:

  • The Sami received constitutional recognition on 21 April 1988 when the National Parliament of Norway amended the Norwegian Constitution through the adoption of Article 110 (a).
  • Article 110 (a) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway recognizes the Sami, stating that: “It is the responsibility of the authorities of the State to create conditions enabling the Sami to preserve and develop its language, culture and way of life.”
  • Speaking after the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP), Johan L. Lovald, the Norwegian representative stated that “Norway would work with the Sami people, recognized as indigenous by the Government [of Norway]” (UN 2007b).
  • The draft Nordic Sami Convention will recognize the status of the Sami people as the only indigenous people of Norway, as well as Finland and Sweden (Scheinin 2007, 41).


8. Support/ratification for international instruments on indigenous rights

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • On 19 June 1990, Norway was the first country to ratify ILO Convention 169 Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989.
  • Norway voted in favour of adopting the UN DRIP. This declaration is non-binding and does not impose duties or obligations on the Norwegian state.
  • Norway, along with Finland and Sweden, has been in discussion since 2005 with the three Sami parliaments on the adoption of the draft Nordic Sami Convention. The Expert Group that was commissioned to draft the convention makes clear that it is a rights convention, “with very few general or merely aspirational provisions” (Ahren 2007, 13).


9. Affirmative action

   No, but employers are obligated by law to "make an active effort" to promote equality.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • According to Henriksen, there are “no affirmative action programmes to overcome discrimination in employment against Samis as such situations are no longer an issue” (1997, 71).
  • Employment equity falls under several statutes. Most pertinent for the Sami people is The Anti-Discrimination Act [2006]. The purpose of the act is to promote equality, ensure equal opportunities and rights and prevent discrimination based on ethnicity, national origin, descent, skin colour, language, religion or belief.
  • This act does not stipulate affirmative action with the goal of improving the labour market outcomes of the Sami. Section 8 of the act, however, allows for positive action introduced by employers.
  • In January 2009, a new “duty to make an active effort and report” was introduced in The Anti-Discrimination Act (section 3.a). The duty to make an active effort and report makes it mandatory for public authorities, public and private employers and employer/employee organizations to work actively, systematically, and in a targeted manner to promote the purpose of the act.
  • Furthermore, the new activity obligation comprises pay and working conditions, promotion, development opportunities and protections against harassment. Private companies regularly employing less than 50 employees are exempted from this duty (Norway 2009, 53).

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