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Uranium Mining in Nunavut

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AbstractThe Inuit in the Canadian Arctic have fought uranium mining on their ancestral lands for years. In 1993, after decades of negotiations, the federal government and Inuit representatives signed the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (“NLCA”), which not only provided for the creation of the Territory of Nunavut as new political entity within the Canadian federal system and the establishment of a public territorial government, but also transferred land and resource ownership over vast areas of the newly-created territory, as well as considerable co-management rights, to the Inuit of Nunavut. To govern these special rights and benefits on behalf of the Inuit of Nunavut and to watch over the implementation of and adherence to the NLCA, the NLCA established the Inuit-organization Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (“NTI”). Initially NTI banned uranium mining. In 2007, however, NTI reversed its stance and adopted a pro-uranium policy without prior Inuit, community or public input. Following the adoption of the new policy, several uranium mining companies have started to negotiate agreements with NTI to open mines on Inuit-owned lands. NTI’s decision to lift its ban on uranium mining has not only initiated a public debate on the safety and desirability of uranium mining in Nunavut but also calls the legitimacy of the political system of Nunavut into question. This paper will look at the different stakeholders involved in the uranium controversy and their powers to take and influence decisions regarding uranium mining. It is argued that the uranium controversy has revealed a democracy deficit that needs to be addressed.

Affiliations: 1: University of SydneyInstitute for International Law and European LawGeorg-August University of


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