On Nordic Sámi cooperation

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion

The authorities in Sweden, Finland and Norway have cooperated on Sámi issues since the Nordic cooperative body for Sámi and reindeer husbandry matters was established by Royal Decree in 1964.

Photo: Kenneth HættaThe authorities in Sweden, Finland and Norway have cooperated on Sámi issues since the Nordic cooperative body for Sámi and reindeer husbandry matters was established by Royal Decree in 1964. This cooperative body has been a contact forum for information and discussion at civil service level between the three countries’ governments. The cooperation committee was replaced in 2001 by the Nordic civil service body for Sámi issues, on which the Sámi parliaments are also represented.

In 2000, regular cooperation was established between the presidents of the Sámi parliaments and the ministers with responsibility for Sámi affairs in Sweden, Finland and Norway. The ministers and presidents of the Sámi parliaments meet regularly to inform about, discuss and consider Sami issues of mutual interest. The goal of this new Nordic cooperation is to strengthen and develop the Sámi people’s language, culture, economy and way of life. The cooperation is informally, but closely affiliated to the Nordic Council of Ministers. The preparation and follow-up of matters is carried out by the Nordic civil service body for Sámi issues. Responsibility for convening and chairing the meetings alternates between the three countries. In 2005, Finland took over responsibility for the secretariat function from Sweden, which took over from Norway in 2004. The Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs is the responsible ministry in Norway.

The ministers and the presidents of the Sámi parliaments decided in November 2001 to appoint an expert group to prepare a draft Nordic Sami convention based on the report The need and basis for a Nordic Sámi convention. The group submitted its proposal for a Nordic Sámi convention in November 2005.

The Sámi parliaments in Finland, Sweden and Norway have established a joint  cooperative body, the Sámi Parliamentary Council. The Council is an institutionalised collaboration between the Sámi parliaments in matters that affect Sámi people in several countries or the Sámi people as a whole. The Council is an important body in the new Nordic cooperation on Sámi matters, and the Sámi parliaments wish the Council to play an active part in international work, including work on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, indigenous issues in the Barents Cooperation and in work in relation to the Arctic Council. The secretariat function is carried out by the Sámi parliament that has the office of president. The Sámi Parliamentary Council will be an important body in the new Nordic cooperation in the time ahead, and it will also be important in the international context. It is important, therefore, that the Council is given good conditions for cooperation and opportunities for development.