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Statement by the Arctic Caucus. Item 3 (c) Culture

(På engelsk)

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 12th session


May 20–31, 2013

Thank you Mr. Chair. Congratulations with your appointment, we wish you success during your term. This is an Arctic Caucus intervention on behalf of the Saami Council and the Inuit Circumpolar Council.

Mr. Chairman;

Culture, including all of its creative, spiritual and material aspects, constitutes the foundation upon which people thrive. Culture provides meaning and identity to community life. In order for the Arctic Peoples to continue to develop as distinct peoples, appropriate conditions for the on-going growth and enrichment of Saami and Inuit culture must be assured.

Since this item on culture is related to the review and follow-up of previous recommendations of the Permanent Forum, I will remind you about my statement during the 9th session of the Permanent Forum during the review on development with culture and identity: articles 3 and 32 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I stated then, that industrial development is rapidly reaching our areas and our way of life will be affected and we will have to adapt to these changes, on top of what we already are experiencing from the effects of climate change.

Cultural development and the protection of the Arctic environment are inseparably linked. In particular, the vital role of subsistence practices within the Inuit culture and reindeer husbandry in the Saami culture provides further compelling reason for safeguarding the integrity of the vast circumpolar environment and its living resources.

We do not want to dance to the tunes of the resource extraction companies. It is therefore of utmost importance that the principle of free, prior and informed consent is respected in those cases and appropriate democratic infrastructure is in place to protect our culture and identity. The diverse cultures of the Arctic Indigenous peoples in the circumpolar North are part of all humankind. In this context, each culture has a dignity and value which must be respected and protected.

Non-material cultures are part of the cultural heritage of Inuit and Saami. The collective rights of Inuit and Saami to those non-material cultures are to be respected and Inuit and Saami credited with the full benefits, including both cultural and financial benefits (royalties). Intellectual property and copyright regulations have to be respected in regard to Inuit and Saami knowledge and non-material cultures. The Inuit Circumpolar Council and the Saami Council will represent Inuit and Saami by promoting their rights to culture, both intellectual and international, in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Inuit and Saami cultures, like other cultures, are dynamic and not static. It is evolving and changing in response to stimuli from within and outside the Arctic. The Arctic cultures must be made an essential focal point when development decisions are taken concerning Arctic regions, in order to avoid undesirable assimilation or destruction.

Mr. Chair;

The language is central to the continuity of our culture and to cultural identity. It is the cohesive thread that binds a particular people. Perceptions of society, nature and the universe are manifested through language. Languages that are not frequently used are likely to eventually disappear. That is the reason why it is so important extensively to use our languages in education, public affairs, commerce and governmental activities and as the official language in government, education and every day life.

The Saami in Scandinavia and Inuit in Greenland are part of the Nordic Council Language Convention, with the right to use our own language in education and receive support to print books in Saami and Inuit languages. The same cannot unfortunately be said about Inuit in North America, where the Inuit language is rapidly disappearing. Only in the self governing territories such as Nunavik and Nunavut in Canada steps are taken to protect the language.

As a Permanent Participant in the 8 Arctic states cooperation, the Arctic Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Council is now heading the "Arctic Indigenous Language project". Its work will concentrate on solutions that aim to stop the disappearance of languages and start an coordinated effort to establish communication across borders, such as through cooperation on setting up television and radio channels, as the Saami in Scandinavia and Greenland have done for many years. It's time to act and use the new technologies at hand.

Inuit Circumpolar Council and the Saami Council want to participate in international bodies and promote technological initiatives that will promote linguistic diversity, fight the tendencies of linguicide and promote youth initiatives to keep our languages strong.


Thank you Mr. Chair

Verdens oprindelige folk til møde i FN's hovedkvarter i New York

På vegne af FN's generalsekretær Ban Ki-moon åbnede vicegeneraldirektøren Sha Zukang igår på anden Pinsedag det tolvte møde i FN's Permanente Forum for Oprindelige Folks anliggender i FNs hovedkvarter i New York med deltagelse af op til to tusinde deltagere fra hele verden's oprindelige folk.

Det særlige ekspertpanel under FN, kaldt Permament Forum i daglige tale, består af 16 medlemmer hvoraf de 8 medlemmer er valgt af oprindelige folks organisationer som har konsultativ status i FN's organer. Således deler Inuit Circumpolar Council et sæde sammen med Samerådet. Juristen Dalee S. Dorough, en inuk fra Alaska, sidder for tiden i Forummet og vil også fortsætte de næste tre år.

Årets hoveddagsorden bliver bred og vil behandle emner som dækker sundhed, uddannelse, kultur og sprog. Inuit Circumpolar Council bliver repræsenteret af dets internationale formand Aqqaluk Lynge og Hjalmar Dahl fra ICC Grønland og Rena Skifte samt Leanna Ellsworth fra ICC Canada. Desuden deltager fra Grønland Kattie Egede Motzfeldt og Aviaaja E. Lynge i Kvindeforummet. For første gang er Jakob og Rita Petrussen fra Grønlands døveforening også observatører på mødet.

Permanent Forums tolvte session for verdens sidste koloniserede folk bliver meget sigende holdt i FN's Formynderskabs Råd som behandler koloniforhold. Det store mødelokale er netop blevet renoveret, betalt af den danske stat og blev for en måned siden åbnet af Kronprinsesse Mary.