Over the last two decades there has been a growing global acknowledgement of Indigenous land and resource rights. At the same time, there has also been a dramatic increase in extractive activities and infrastructure projects on traditional Indigenous lands. Using the case of mining in Sápmi, this research project investigated the increasingly complex politics of resource extraction on traditional Indigenous lands emerging from these two contradictory trends.
Two theoretical questions structured the research project. The first concerned the rights of Indigenous peoples to land and natural resources: how are we to understand the international recognition of Indigenous resource rights in relation to national legal systems? The second concerned the constitution of governing practices: how are shifting laws, rules and norms concerning Indigenous rights to resources changing negotiations between Indigenous peoples, states and corporations? What new co-management models are possible?
The project used a comparative legal analysis across Sweden, Norway and Finland, addressing also international law pertaining to Indigenous peoples? land and resource rights. In addition, the project built on empirically detailed case studies of mining conflicts in all three countries.
The project aimed to identify practical proposals for the recognition of Saami rights to land and resources through legal reforms and through institutional models for the co-management of natural resources.