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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Finger-Stich and Finger
The first Arctic Indigenous Leaders’ Summit, which was organized shortly after the Rovaniemi
summit by the ICC and held in Horsholm, was a historic start for the cooperation of indigenous
peoples in the Arctic. The Horsholm Declaration was signed by the ICC Environmental
Commission, the Nordic Saami Council (NSC) and the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples
of the North (RAIPON) (Faegteborg, 2005). The Aleut International Association, the Arctic
Athabascan Council, as well as the Gwich’in International Council joined later, after the Arctic
Council was established. Whereas in the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS, 1991),
indigenous peoples were granted “Observer Status”, this evolved into “Permanent Participant” status
in the Arctic Council, something unique to this day in international environmental institutions.
Indeed, the indigenous peoples’ organizations take part in all of the six programs of the Arctic
Council: the Arctic Contaminant Action Program (ACAP); the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment
Program (AMAP); the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF);
the Emergency,
Preparedness and Response Program (EPPR); the Protection of Arctic Marine Environment
(PAME); and the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG).
The rather short Rovaniemi Declaration endorsing AEPS stated that: “Management, planning and
development activities that may significantly affect the Arctic ecosystems shall (…) recognize and, to
the extent possible, seek to accommodate the traditional and cultural needs, values and practices of
the indigenous peoples as determined by themselves, related to the protection of the Arctic
environment”. The commitment to involve actively indigenous peoples in the implementation of the
strategy emerges also explicitly, yet timidly, as a decision: “We agree to continue to promote
cooperation with Arctic Indigenous Peoples and to invite their organizations to future meetings as
observers” (AEPS, 1991: 3). By saying so, it creates a council for and by the Arctic states including
Arctic peoples.
The participation of indigenous peoples is a key component in the emerging regional approach for
environmental policy making in and for the Arctic. The regional approach with indigenous peoples’
participation has also been strengthened by scientific cooperation, particularly through the
establishment of the IASC in 1990; political cooperation promoted by the Northern Forum (NF);
and intra-governmental cooperation with the establishment of the Conference of Parliamentarians of
the Arctic Region (CPAR) in Reykjavik in 1993.