Year: 1980 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0.5 4 5.5 5.5



    Partial, but very limited.

Recognition of Land Rights/ Title Scores
Year: 1980 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0.5 0.5


  • 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; a 2018 report from the Saami Council to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted that no significant progress had been made on recommended amendments to the Finnmark Act, the Mineral Act, or the Reindeer Husbandry Act (Saami Council 2018).


    Partial, but limited to matters of culture.

Recognition of Self-government Scores
Year: 1980 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0.5 0.5


  • 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).
  • Recent court cases have reinforced a more limited interpretation of Sami rights, including self-governance rights. While Sami do have usage rights (e.g. reindeer grazing rights), a 2018 Supreme Court decision held that Sami villages do not have the right to regulate traditional activities – such as fishing, trapping and hunting – in the Finnmark region (Hofverberg 2019).



Upholding Treaties Scores
Year: 1980 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0


  • 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.
  • All three Sami parliaments have endorsed the proposed Sami Convention. The actual process of negotiation did not begin until 2011, and a revised Nordic Sami Convention was presented in 2016. The revised proposal has been criticized by the Sami as being a weakened version of the 2005 draft, and as falling short of fulfilling international norms (Mörkenstam 2019).
  • 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). However, ratification appears to still be several years away.


    Yes; recognition of specific Sami rights is primarily limited to language, with some recent acknowledgements regarding fishing / reindeer husbandry.

Recognition of Cultural Rights Scores
Year: 1980 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 1 1 1


  • 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). Moreover, the act is ethnically neutral and the rights are not special to the Sami; all individuals must be issued a permit for such activities.
  • The Marine Resources Act includes a provision noting the importance of emphasizing Sami culture considerations in regulations pertaining to fishing and in the management of fishing. Additionally, a local fjord fishing advisory board was established which consists of three members of the Sami Parliament, and three members from each of the three northern counties.
  • In 2017, the governments of Norway and Finland finalized the Deatnu/Tana Agreement, regulating fishing in the Deatnu Watercourse. The agreement strongly limited Sami traditional fishing methods, including net-fishing; the Sami Parliaments in both Finland and Norway were strongly opposed to the agreement (Saami Council 2019). 
  • Additionally, Sami reindeer management was recognized through a General Agreement for the Reindeer Industry (1976) and the Reindeer Management Act (1978) (Riseth 2007, 179).


    Partial, some attempts to institutionalize and safeguard Sami customary law within the Norwegian judicial system.

Recognition of Customary Law Scores
Year: 1980 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0.5 0.5


  • 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).
  • The Sami Act has influenced the practice of law in Norway with respect to the Sami. In 2004, Norway established the Sis-Finnmárkku Diggigoddi / Inner Finnmark District Court, a district court for the Central Sami areas with judges who speak the Sami language and who are skilled in Sami culture and with a special responsibility to safeguard Sami customary law (Ravna 2013).



Guarantees of Representation Scores
Year: 1980 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0.5 1 1


  • As an indigenous people recognized by the Norwegian state, the Sami are entitled to be consulted on matters that concern them. This right is enshrined in the ILO Convention no. 169, to which Norway is a signatory (Government of Norway 2018a).
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • In negotiating the details of the Finnmark Act, the Saami Parliament and Norwegian authorities also set out a joint agreement relating to consultation procedures. By Royal Decree on 1 July 2005, the agreed-upon procedures were extended to apply to the whole central government administration, including legislative or administrative measures that may directly affect Sami interests. Under the agreed-upon terms, 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.).
  • In 2018, the Sami Parliament, The Norwegian Reindeer Association (Norske reindriftssamers landsforbund in Norwegian) and the government reached an updated agreement on consultation rules; the consultation framework was brought before the Norwegian Parliament in 2018 (Johnsen and Søreng 2018; Government of Norway 2018b). 
  • The proposed changes (Prop. 116L) to the Sami Act would introduce a separate chapter on consultations, legislating the main principles of the duty to consult and regulating consultations between public authorities and the Sami Parliament (Government of Norway 2018c). The Parliament sent the bill back to government; as of 2020 it has yet to be considered by Parliament (Ravna 2020).



Affirmation of Distinct Status Scores
Year: 1980 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0.5 1 1 1


  • 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." The Saami Council contests the degree to which this language acts as a full recognition of the Sami as a distinct people or as an indigenous people (Saami Council 2018).
  • 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). However, as noted in Section 3, ratification appears to still be several years away.



Support for International Instruments Scores
Year: 1980 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 1 1 1


  • On 19 June 1990, Norway was the first country to ratify ILO Convention 169 Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989.
  • In 2007, 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).


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

Affirmative Action Scores
Year: 1980 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0


  • 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.
  • Sector-specific action, such as the reservation of spots for Sami within medical schools, has seen some success (Gaski et al. 2008; George 2001).
  • 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).