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Indigenous Self-determination through a Government Agency? The Impossible Task of the Swedish Sámediggi

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image of International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

The last two decades have witnessed a growing global acknowledgement of indigenous rights, for instance manifested in the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Nordic countries have all responded to the rights claims of the indigenous Sámi people by establishing popularly elected Sámediggis (Sámi Parliaments) to serve as their representative bodies. Internationally, the Sámediggis are often referred to as ‘models’ for indigenous self-governance and participation. Using in-depth interviews with politicians and civil servants, this article provides the first empirical study of the daily work of the Swedish Sámediggi, with a specific focus on its institutional design as a government agency with dual roles: as an administrative authority under the Swedish government and as a popularly elected representative body of the Sámi people. We examine how these dual roles affect the work of the Sámediggi and if the Swedish Sámediggi safeguards the Sámi right to self-determination.

Affiliations: 1: Research Fellow, Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden, ; 2: Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden,


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