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Indigenous Self-Government in the Arctic, and their Right to Land and Natural Resources

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AbstractThe article examines the evolution in international law of indigenous self-government and their control over their land and resources, and explores the extent to which this is being followed up at the national level with particular emphasis on Arctic and other Northern indigenous peoples. It starts by discussing the concept of ‘indigenous peoples’, noting that most of them live in areas that have until recently been considered to be marginal by the dominant parts of society, and observes that two contradictory trends can presently be observed: On the one hand a growing pressure, in the context of expanding economic globalisation and intensification of consumption, for access to the natural resources in the areas where they live, but on the other hand a growing resistance through improved organisation by the indigenous peoples themselves and by a growing recognition of their rights under international law. The impact of this general evolution at the global level on specific cases are examined with regards to the Inuit-controlled self-government of Nunavut in Canada, the move towards full independence of Inuit-controlled Greenland, and the evolution of Sámi self-management in Sámi land of Fenno-Scandinavia.

Affiliations: 1: Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of


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