Finland shelves indigenous rights agreement ratification

A Sámi youth protester outside of Parliament on Friday. (Vesa Toppari / Yle)
A Sámi youth protester outside of Parliament on Friday. (Vesa Toppari / Yle)
Finland will not be ratifying the International Labour Organisation’s “Convention No. 169”, which vouchsafes the rights of indigenous peoples, until the next government is formed.

The ratification proposal was shelved on Friday evening.

The decision to put the ratification proposal on ice came down from Parliament’s Speaker’s Council. It means that the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) “Convention No. 169”, a binding international directive granting indigenous and tribal peoples the same rights as other citizens, will next be under discussion in the next government. The convention was approved in 1989, and has so far been ratified by 22 states.

Minister of Justice Anna-Maija Henriksson said on Friday evening that she was extremely disappointed in the Speaker’s Council’s decision.

“I’m very dissatisfied, but perhaps it is better to leave the decision up to the next government,” she said. “A rushed vote now may have denied the ILO agreement in Finland completely.”

The ILO 169 proposal was just one of many issues that were left open in Parliament on Friday, amidst a situation described as “chaotic”.

Today Saturday Parliament had its final working day before going on recess. Parliament will reconvene after the next elections in April.

The Finnish Sámi Youth Organisation protested in front of Parliament on Friday morning for the ratification of the ILO 169 agreement. The event, dubbed the “Black March” (Čáhppes ráidu), was attended by about a hundred protesters.

More on Convention No. 169 here.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Arctic Council – The evolving role of regions in Arctic governance, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot

Finland: Finnish Sámi join UN Forum on indigenous issues, Yle News

Greenland: What the EU seal ban has meant for Inuit communities in the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland conference draws on hopes, concerns for changing Arctic, Alaska Dispatch

Norway: Alarming situation for indigenous peoples in Russia, Barents Observer

Russia: Russia to give indigenous peoples priority in Barents chairmanship, Barents Observer

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

United States: Alaska administration wants better relationship with tribal governments, Alaska Dispatch News


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