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Participation of the Northern Indigenous Peoples in the Management of the Russian Arctic Territories and Its Legal Protection


The paper is an overview of the participation of the northern indigenous peoples in the public management of the Arctic territories in Russia. Different forms of participation are described, and most attention is paid to the co-management of the governments and the indigenous peoples when their mutual aim is protecting the Arctic and its natural landscapes in the period of extensive industrial development.

The principle objective of the paper is to analyze the international and national legal regulations and to show some effective legal mechanisms through which participation can be developed in Russia.

The authors study definitions of participation, the main international principles of participation and give a deep analysis of the legislation of the Russian Federation, which provides the framework for indigenous participation. Much attention is paid to the legislation of the federative regions of Russia which are inhabited by the northern indigenous peoples. Mostly the authors study the example of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area, the Arctic area of Russia with the biggest gas reserves, inhabited by the Nenets.

The first conclusion made in the paper is that the Arctic countries must not only prioritize the exploitation of rich Arctic resources, but also be aware that the Arctic is primarily the home and the area of the traditional lifestyle and occupations of the northern indigenous peoples who have lived there for a long time. The northern indigenous peoples are interested in cooperation with the governments according to their traditional values and knowledge; they want to be involved in the decision-making process and management of their territories and resources.

The second conclusion is that a patchwork of federal laws regulating indigenous issues in Russia does not grant any special rights that let the northern indigenous peoples participate in the decision-making process concerning the lands and resources in the Arctic areas. The federal government mostly implements the concept of paternalism but not the concept of participation. The federative regions in their regulations provide considerably more opportunities for participation. However, the regions are quite restricted by the federal legislation. The regulations are fragmentary on both the federal and the regional levels, there is no system of public authorities providing for consultation, cooperation, agreements and other forms of indigenous participation. Moreover, in Russia there is very little experience in the realization of the participation of the Arctic territories and resources.

The third, and most important, conclusion is that participation in the management of the Arctic territories should become a new element of the Russian Arctic policy. From this perspective it is necessary to ratify and sign two international documents – Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention No. 169 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – and to incorporate the basic principles of participation into the Russian federal legislation. Also it is vital to establish a specialized federal body on indigenous issues with a special focus on the northern indigenous peoples. Lastly, the legal and administrative capabilities of regions and local authorities should be increased, and the regional and local bodies should be vested with the power to involve indigenous peoples in the management of the northern territories.

Częstotliwość wydawania:
2 razy w roku
Dziedziny czasopisma:
Social Sciences, Political Science, Local Government and Administration