On 21 December 2018, Norway officially announced that it ignores a request by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to suspend the construction of a power plant within the traditional territory of the indigenous Åerjel Njaarke Sijte Sami reindeer herding community. The request was enacted by the Committee on 10 December 2018 pursuant to Rule 94(3) of CERD’s Rules of procedure.
President of the Saami Council, Ms. Åsa Larsson Blind, is confound by Norway's disrespect of the decision made by the UN Treaty Body.
“It is extremely disappointing, but also revealing that Norway disregards CERD’s decision, allowing the construction of the power plant to proceed, as Norway likes to pride itself with being a state that believes in the rule of law and respects human rights,” said President of the Saami Council, Ms. Åsa Larsson Blind.
In a letter sent today to the UN delegations of all Member States that have ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the European Union and the Council of Europe, the Saami Council informs about Norway’s defiance of the decision made by the Treaty Body.
“By ignoring CERD’s decision, Norway not only makes it clear that in fact, it only respects human rights when those do not conflict with Norway’s own interests. In addition, Norway encourages disrespect of the entire UN treaty body system,” Ms. Blind wrote.
The construction of the power plant would have detrimental effects on the Sami reindeer herding community’s and its members’ possibilities to continuously pursue its ancient livelihood, traditional Sami reindeer herding, the backbone of their cultural identity. For this reason, the Saami Council, an NGO with consultative status with the ECOSOC, assisted the community in filing a complaint with CERD.