Lappland, "lapparnas" land? : En analys av samernas fastighetsrättsliga och folkrättsliga markanspråk i norra Sverige

by Sellin, Anna

Abstract (Summary)
The aim of this thesis is to examine whether the Sami people, who is an indigenous people living in the north of Sweden, could have acquired ownership of land areas in Lapland according to Swedish law, or whether they only have a right to use the land that they traditionally occupy for reindeer breeding, hunting and fishing. The question is dealt with from a land law as well as an international law approach.Concerning the land law approach, the Sami people has had a very strong position close to ownership during the 17th and 18th centuries. At that time, the Samis paid tax for their lands, which meant that they were not considered to belong to the Crown, but were treated in the same way as the independent farmers’ lands. However, while the farmers through a declaration from the King in 1789 automatically achieved full ownership of their lands, the Sami people did not. Instead, the Samis were pressed back from large parts of their original territory because of colonisation, exploitation and depreciation of their nomadic way of living. Once a majority, they found themselves a minority in their own land and their territory had become the Crown’s property. Undoubtedly, there has been an extraordinary shifting of the Sami people’s land rights within four centuries.Current law does only guarantee the members of the Sami villages the right to use land for reindeer breeding, hunting and fishing, and this right is in some aspects even weaker than that of other Swedish citizens with similar rights. Still, case law does not exclude the possibility that reindeer breeding could have originated right of ownership, especially in Lapland. My findings on this area are that there is convincing evidence that the Sami people has acquired right of ownership on the lands which they traditionally occupy all year around. On the lands that they share with others, they have a strong right to use the land during the winter, probably stronger than the legislation provides for.What concerns the international law approach, Swedish legislation does fulfil the minimum demands according to the conventions the country has ratified. Still, Sweden has been criticized of not finding a balanced solution to and improving legal certainty on Sami land rights. Sweden has not ratified the ILO Convention no. 169 con-cerning indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries. The reason for this is mainly the article which aims at strengthening the indigenous peoples’ land rights, which Sweden does not find compatible with national law. Still, one can hope that the ongoing international development on the area will show the way, and that Sweden will pay attention to it in future legislation.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Högskolan i Jönköping

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:sami law land international claims people indigenous ethnic minorities right of ownership to use possession time immemorial custom colonialism northern sweden


Date of Publication:06/15/2006

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