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Historical Synopsis of the Sami/United Nations Relationship
by Christian Jakob Burmeister Hicks
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Saami and the United Nations
  Arguably the most important international influence by the Saami has been felt at the United Nations. The Saami were instrumental in the formation of nearly all aspects of the United Nations that dealt with indigenous issues. (Nystad, 2002)
  The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is a long awaited advisory committee placed directly under ECOSOC. Its mandate is to, “review developments pertaining to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples. [The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is] to give attention to the evolution of international standards concerning indigenous rights.” (UN, 1982) The PFII can be seen as the most significant achievement for indigenous peoples at the international level. Now indigenous leaders can voice their concerns and issues in a venue where they have to be heard. The only way that they can be silenced is if the Permanent Forum were dissolved.
  The first person to come up with the idea of the Permanent Forum was Lars Anders Baer. A Swedish Saami, Lars Anders Baer is a long time activist in national and international Saami politics. At ECOSOC’s forty-ninth session of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Baer proposed that, “The institutional framework of the UN must also be strengthened in view of the increasing importance of issues affecting indigenous peoples; that could be done by creating a permanent advisory body within the UN consisting of representatives of indigenous peoples themselves.” (UN, 1993, 14) In addition, John Bernard Henriksen proposed the current structure of the Permanent Forum. (Nystad, 2002) John Henriksen is a Saami and advisor in the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. In 1994, Mr. Henriksen was a representative and legal advisor for the Nordic Saami Council to the United Nations. (Henriksen, 2002)
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Historical synopsis of the Sami/United Nations relationship,
by Christian J. B. Hicks.
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