Arctic Yearbook 2012
As well as the Kingdom of Denmark’s strategy emphasizes cooperation on human health
and social coherence, and its policy is said to be “first and foremost a strategy for a
development that benefits the inhabitants of the Arctic” (Kingdom of Denmark Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, 2011: 10).
Finland relates this issue to climate change, pollution, biodiversity and economic
development, and the participation of Northern indigenous peoples, particularly the Sámi,
when dealing with their own affairs and decisions that affect them. The Finnish strategy
states that Finland “continues to work for the rights of indigenous peoples” for example, by
strengthening education and culture in the Sámi languages, and seeks for a solution “that
meets the minimum requirements for removing the barriers preventing ratification” of the
ILO Convention 169. (Prime Minister’s Office, 2010: 30-33)
Iceland refers to people, and culture, in general terms and states that the unique cultural
heritages and cultural identities of Arctic communities should be preserved
(Utanrikisraduneytid, 2009: 54-57). Norway’s strategy aims to “lay foundations for
sustainable economic and social development”, and therefore the seventh priority is to
“safeguard the culture and livelihoods of indigenous peoples” (Norwegian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, 2009: 42-44), and develop contact between people, particularly with the
Russians (ibid: 54-57). The Russian policy is above all an interior document with a focus on
domestic issues also related to social and economic development, and would like “to
improve the quality of life for indigenous peoples” (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 2009).
The Swedish strategy highlights “the human dimension” in general, but a special attention is
paid to indigenous peoples as well as “other groups with traditional lifestyle”, particularly the
Sámi and their cultures and languages (Government Offices of Sweden, 2011: 35-40). The
US policy mostly emphasizes national security, freedom of the seas and external affairs, but
explicitly mentions the status of social development and “the lives of Arctic inhabitants,
particularly indigenous communities”, which should be safeguarded and improved (White
House, 2009: 7).
Similarities: ‘Human dimension’ and/or ‘social dimension’ – either meaning the resident
population in general, or particularly indigenous peoples - is explicitly discussed in the
strategies of all the Arctic states.