"Many have mistakenly interpreted the announcement by the Finnish Minister of Justice that the ILO 169 will not be ratified to mean that it will never be ratified in Finland. This is, of course, a misunderstanding. It will again be for the next Government of Finland to think this through" States Timo Koivurova in an interview to the Barents Observer.

It has been previously reported that Finland's Minister of Justice, Tuija Brax, told media that the skeleton law, prepared for a long time by the Ministry of Justic, broke worn because of the Centre Party's opposition. Professor Koivurova argues that there are also many other misunderstandings related to the ILO 169 ratification in both Finland and Sweden.

timo koivurova"Many experts – also in ILO - are puzzled over why the ILO 169 is read in Finland and Sweden as if it was a detailed Act of law, when, in effect, it is an international convention envisaged to be of universal application (even if it has been ratified only by 22 countries worldwide). Any international convention, including ILO 169, contains flexibility as to how it is implemented to match with the realities of different countries and regions. ILO Convention 169 says this explicitly in its Article 34" Professor Koivurova also sees that the Norwegian model of implementing the ILO 169 shows that the ILO Convention can be interpreted flexibly.

"What we in Finland and Sweden can learn from Norway is that the ILO 169 was not interpreted only to protect the rights of Saami, but the State transferred most of its lands and waters in Finnmark to all the population groups living there, Kvens, Norwegians and Saami" says Timo Koivurova.

Another important thing according to the Professor is to realize is that the northern region benefited from this: decision-making powers and land ownership were really transferred from Oslo to Finnmark.

Please see the original press release here.

Photo: Arto Liiti