FDCIP 2013 FDCIP Chair

The Rights of Indigenous Peoples – an Ongoing Struggle

Torjer Olsen

Torjer Olsen
Torjer Olsen. Photo: Arnstein Johnskareng

Forum for Development Cooperation with Indigenous Peoples Chair

Dear all – pro-rector, President of the Sámi Parliament, invited speakers, participants from here and there, colleagues and students,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Forum Conference 2013: Land and Sea Rights – Protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples to Land and Sea. For two days we will be gathered, discussing issues related to Indigenous peoples and development cooperation.

My name is Torjer Olsen. I am chair of the advisory board of the Forum for Development Cooperation with Indigenous Peoples. On an everyday basis I work at the Centre for Sámi Studies as a teacher and scholar, and it is a pleasure to see many of the students from the Master’s degree programme in Indigenous Studies – where I teach – present here today.

Norway has a new government. In this government, there is no Minister for Development Cooperation. I am uncertain as to what this means. There is a tendency that politicians talk more about industry, financial issues, and Norway’s interests abroad than they talk about fighting poverty. This might cause indigenous peoples’ way to the agenda to become longer.

The main focus of development cooperation is not to earn money; it is about international solidarity and fighting poverty.

I find it really positive that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will present their new guidelines on Norway’s international effort for the rights of Indigenous peoples. I look forward to an open debate on these guidelines during the conference.

The Forum Conference 2013 will be a physical meeting place for people working with development cooperation from the fields of research, management and development work; here we will present and reflect upon the foundations of the forum within Sápmi and the northern regions, and facilitate reflection concerning the current role and future work of the Forum. Geographically, the Forum Conference 2013 will highlight examples from East Africa and North Norway. The Forum Conference 2013 wishes to provide knowledge, share experiences, and raise questions.

Have a great and hopefully thought-provoking conference!