A positive step for the resolution of the Barents Indigenous Peoples’ Congress

The first Barents Indigenous Peoples Congress (BIPC) was arranged in Kirkenes in the beginning of February 2010.

The conference adopted a resolution stating that the Saami, Nenets and Veps are entitled to the right to self-determination which should first and foremost be achieved by them each being granted full and active participation within the BEAC and BRC as Permanent Participants.

The BIPC resolution was forwarded to the structures of the Barents cooperation. CSO discussed the resolution at its meeting in Kiruna, Sweden on 11-13 October 2010. The resolution was well received; CSO decided to invite representatives from the Saami, Nenets and Vepsians to the next meeting.

A month later the Regional Committee (RC) and the Regional Council (BRC) discussed the BIPC resolution at their meetings in Kajaani on 11-12 November 2010. They concluded that each indigenous people in the Barents region may be represented in the future in RC and BRC meetings.

This is a positive step for the BIPC resolution and the indigenous peoples of the Barents cooperation. Now the indigenous peoples have the possibility to be represented directly instead of indirectly in the Barents cooperation. The indigenous peoples’ representatives are, however, only invited as observers with no formal right to vote or affect the decisions made in the Barents structures. The final steps for the indigenous peoples’ demands must be taken by the Barents Council. It is only on this level the formal role of the indigenous peoples’ representation in the Barents cooperation can be changed, but already now an important principal decision for the indigenous peoples has been made.