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Democracy seminar at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

KIRKENES: Following the development of an elected political body, representing the Saami people in Murmansk Oblast, the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples in the BEAR (WGIP) plans a mini seminar on democratization among indigenous peoples in Russia during the 10th session of the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). Chair of the Saami Assembly of Murmansk Oblast, Valentina V. Sovkina (photo), is the keynote speaker, together with Anna Naykanchina from RAIPON.

On May 20, WGIP and RAIPON, in cooperation with Gáldu (Resource Centre for Rights of Indigenous Peoples), invite to a seminar on democratization processes among indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation. The event takes places in New York City at 4.35 PM on Friday afternoon, and the venue will be announced soon. 

The recent election of a Saami Assembly in Murmansk Oblast (Russia) forms a case-study for the seminar, and the Chair of the Assembly, Ms Valentina V. Sovkina, will elaborate on the efforts made through the last ten years, as well as the recent development and the political situation for indigenous peoples in North-West Russia.

Ms Anna Naykanchina, Vice-President of RAIPON and Member of the UNPFII, will speak about political participation among indigenous peoples in Russia on a more general basis, and there will be time for questions and comments after the two speakers have concluded.

 Increased focus on the North, and in particular usage of land areas for industrial purposes, has consequences for the indigenous peoples who make their living from reindeer husbandry and other traditional trades through land usage. Indigenous peoples all over the world are struggling to have their rights recognized, also in the Russian Federation, and the issue of establishing a Saami Assembly in Murmansk Oblast is about having a say in matters affecting the indigenous people of the area.

At the meeting in December 2010, the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples decided to plan a side event on this matter in cooperation with RAIPON and Gáldu for the 10th session of the UNPFII. Altogether 40 indigenous peoples are represented in RAIPON (Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples in the North, Siberia and Far East), which has observatory status to the WGIP.

The United Nations’ Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues holds annual sessions, gathering indigenous peoples from the entire world to promote and discuss indigenous peoples’ issues in an international level. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted on September 13, 2007, and is considered the most comprehensive statement on protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.


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