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Historical Synopsis of the Sami/United Nations Relationship
by Christian Jakob Burmeister Hicks
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World Council of Indigenous Peoples
   In 1975, the Nordic Saami Council and other indigenous groups held a conference in Copenhagen for the final preparations of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP).[6] A strategy, budget, and delegation of experts were adopted at this time.  Aslak Nils Sara, an experienced Saami political activist was elected to the delegation as a representative of Europe and Greenland. The WCIP’s goal was established a formal relationship to the United Nations and is seeking to have concepts of aboriginal rights accepted internationally as basic economic and political rights of indigenous peoples.” (Sanders, 1977, 6) It was one of the first non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to receive consultative status at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN. The WCIP proved to be a powerful force in indigenous politics until it dissolved in 1996 for internal conflict. (Henriksen, 2002) Before its dissolution, the WCIP accomplished two major functions. It gave its members concrete experience in international politics and it presented indigenous politics to the United Nations.
  Saami have proven their merit at forming international partnerships and motivating politics for indigenous rights. “The Saami have formed alliances with other aboriginal peoples through such organizations as the WCIP. Such initiatives have enabled the Nordic Saami to have their rights as an aboriginal people discussed in international fora.” (Sillanpää, 1994, 229)
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Historical synopsis of the Sami/United Nations relationship,
by Christian J. B. Hicks.
Copyright Stefansson Arctic Institute and individual authors ©2000
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