Sámi lawyer elected to lead United Nations Forum on Indigenous Peoples

The UN forum brings together more than 1500 indigenous people from all round the world to New York.

File picture of Anne Nuorgam at United Nations press conference on 22nd April 2019 / Credit: UN DESA

A Member of the Sámi Parliament in Finland has been chosen to lead the United Nations’ Forum on Indigenous Peoples.

Lawyer Anne Nuorgam was also selected to the UN Forum as an expert on Arctic indigenous peoples, Sámi and Inuit.

“For twenty years, the rights of indigenous peoples have been recognised in international law. I want the rights to be realised also in the lives of ordinary Sámi people” says Nuorgam in a statement.

The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples is the world’s largest gathering of indigenous groups, and meets at the United Nations headquarters in New York. This year the theme of the Forum, which brings together more than 1500 participants, is how to pass on, and protect, traditional knowledge.

Under Nuorgam’s leadership, the Forum will make recommendations on the rights of indigenous people around the world, and helps apply the UN’s Declaration on Indigenous Peoples which guarantees the autonomy of indigenous groups, and their right to consultation and prior consent on issues that have a significant impact on their lives.

Finland fishing case 

In March, Nuorgam was one of three Sámi women who won a landmark Finnish legal case.

The Lapland District Court ruled that Sámi people fishing without licenses in their traditional homeland areas were simply exercising their constitutionally-protected cultural rights, and didn’t need any special permissions to do so.

“Our fishing trial was an important step on this path [of applying rights to everyday lives]” says Nuorgam.

“As chairman, I will take initiatives to strengthen the rights of indigenous peoples”.

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