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Introduction and objective


In the spring of 2009 the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) began a dialogue about Human Rights and the Rights of Indigenous People in the future of Greenland.  The back ground for the dialogue was that ICC, under the leadership of Aqqaluk Lynge, had launched a plan to establish an Arctic Centre for Human Rights, where a study on indigenous people’s conditions could be conducted. The board of directors has been established and the plan is to formally found the Centre in June 2010. The objective of this dialogue is to research the possibilities for monitoring the authorities’ general relation to human rights and to what extent the adoption in 2007 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples may affect the future of Greenland.

Moreover, the Inatsisartut (parliament) has adopted a suggestion to establish a Center for Human Rights. The Greenlandic authorities’ discussion on this is not concluded yet.

The mandate of the Danish Institute for Human Rights in Denmark, which is in accordance with the principles that are applicable to other National Human Rights Institutions (the Paris Principles), implies that DIHR shall monitor and promote human rights also in Greenland.[1] The introduction of the Greenlandic autonomy does not affect this mandate relationship, but there is a need to discuss how the task can be lifted in a meaningful way and anchored in Greenland.

A National Human Rights Institution is an independent public institution, which has an important role to play in order to secure democracy and a responsible relationship between the State and its citizens. Furthermore, it can be a positive partner in the constitutional and law making processes as a consulting or advising organ, which makes sure that human rights (and in this context, indigenous peoples’ rights) are taken into consideration in accordance with the international conventions. A National Human Rights Institution can also have an educational program, be the central focus point in the efforts to promote human rights, and have a research and/or analytical component.[2]


The objective of the seminar is to bring focus to human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights in Greenland and to how work upon these issues can bring positive input to democratisation and civic participation in the process of establishing a Human Rights Centre.

[1]            DIHR’s budget is not enough to carry out this task, even if the task was to monitor and promote human rights only in Denmark and not Greenland. 


[2]            The Danish Institute for Human Rights has, like its English sister-organization a mandate to monitor  equal treatment and discrimination.