Finnish Sámi join UN Forum on indigenous issues

Tuomas Aslak Juuso, co-chair of the UN Indigenous Youth Caucus in New York on Monday. ( Yle Sápmi )
Tuomas Aslak Juuso, co-chair of the UN Indigenous Youth Caucus in New York on Monday. ( Yle Sápmi )
The Thirteenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues kicked off on Monday in New York City. Many Sámi from Finland are taking part in the annual spring event.

The theme of this year’s forum is “Principles of good governance consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.

The Permanent Forum is an advisory body to the UN Economic and Social Council. This year the Forum will discuss the economic and social development of indigenous people, as well as their cultures, environments, education, health and human rights. The Permanent Forum gives recommendations to other UN bodies and member countries.

Many Finnish Sámi are taking part in the Forum. From the Finnish Sámi Parliament, the second vice-chair Heikki Paltto and Minna Lehtola from the Parliament’s Youth Council are attending.

The Finnish Sámi Youth Organization SSN has sent a whole delegation to New York. Tuomas Aslak Juuso from SSN is co-chair of the UN Indigenous Youth Caucus. SSN members Anne-Maria Magga, Ida Helander, Aslak Holmberg, Rosa-Máren Magga and Aletta Lakkala will also take part in the Forum as arctic area youth representatives.

Easier heard in New York than in Finland

Indigenous youth from around the globe gathered already Sunday to prepare for the Permanent Forum.

“All young people have the opportunity to raise their views and problems in the youth meeting. A joint statement will then be taken to the Forum. There’s a real possibility of affecting things at the indigenous people’s forum, as it’s often easier to get one’s views heard in a UN context than in Finland,” Juuso explains.

Live streaming

The official Forum sessions and press conferences can be watched live online here:

The annual spring forum runs until May 23.

Related stories from around the Arctic:

Canada:  Canada’s national Inuit organization supports findings of UN aboriginal envoy, CBC News

Finland:  Who is a Sámi?, Yle News

Sweden: UN report critical of Sweden’s treatment of the Sami, Radio Sweden

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