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Christina Allard
Christina Allard, Senior Lecturer in Jurisprudence at Luleå University of Technology. Photo: Melina Granberg View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Sami rights in international light

Published: 12 February 2016

The Swedish Sami law is a new legal area with many ambiguities, which paves the way for conflicts. Christina Allard, Senior Lecturer of Jurisprudence at Luleå University of Technology, creates international research on Sami rights issues and criticizes the government for not taking the problem seriously.

– All who live and work here knows about the conflicts in hunting and fishing and reindeer herding issues versus the mining industry. It is about to use the same lands but it is quite unclear how rights relate to each other, especially when it comes to reindeer herding.

– In Girjasmålet found court that the Sami have exclusive hunting and fishing rights on the lands that the case involved. The verdict that came on February 3 is a milestone in the recognition of Sami rights in Sweden, although it probably will be appealed. The verdict shows that the question of dispute concerning the Sami rights are not consistent with the current regulations and that the only way is to take the state to court, says Christina Allard.

Want to highlight problems

Christina Allard's research focuses on environmental issues and rights issues related to land and water in relation to indigenous peoples, and in particular Sami people.

The purpose of Christina Allard's research is to highlight the differences in the various national laws and to create a better understanding of the situation in Sweden. Sami law is a new area of ​​law, and she believes that there are serious questions that need to be sorted out.

– The regulation concerning the Sami people is very strange, from a lawyer's perspective. When the legislation came in the 1800s, were craniometric measurements performed and Sami’s were seen as an inferior race. It still affects today. In Sweden we see Sami as a minority people and they have been disfavoured. It is a complex picture. You have to have a pretty good knowledge of ​​the history, to understand today's issues, explains Christina Allard and continues:

– There are also historic path dependences that influence. It means to be stuck in certain legal solutions.

Publications show the research front

Christina Allard has recently produced two books of great importance to the scientific community. The book Renskötselrätt i nordisk belysning compares Sweden, Norway and Finland and is the first in-depth analysis of the legislation in these three countries. This is an important area because reindeer herding is transboundary while different rules apply.

Christina Allard also make comparisions with countries that has come further in its models of cooperation with indigenous people, such as New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Researchers in these countries are also interested in the Swedish Sami law, but so far has research in English been missing. With the anthology Indigenous Rights in Scandinavia fills Christina Allard a knowledge gap and can for the first time reach an international audience.