Last Monday, 25 November, the World Trade Organization, issued a report saying EU’s ban on seal skin products is not consistent with international trade agreements and recommending EU bring measures under its seal regime into conformity with its obligations.
Following complaints from Canada and Norway, WTO, in 2011 established a panel tasked with looking into the claims of the two countries, i.e., that the ban discriminated against their access to the European market, violating various paragraphs in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).
According to the findings of the WTO panel, the seal ban does indeed discriminate against Canada and Norway. However the panel report in particular targets the way the ban has been implemented, excepting certain forms of hunting, among them hunting by Inuit and other indigenous communities in the Arctic.
”Welcome to the 51st state of the United States.” Thus US Secretary of State Colin Powell greeted his Danish colleague, Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, when the two met in May 2008 in the South Greenland village of Igaliku, home town of Josef Motzfeldt who hosted the meeting in capacity of member of the Greenland Government for Foreign affairs.
Former Foreign Minister Moeller related the incident when he spoke on the second day of the ICC organized Arctic Peoples Conference, taking place in the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen on 21 and 22 November.
The Arctic Peoples’ Conference organized by the Inuit Circumpolar Council celebrating 40 years of indigenous cooperation took off yesterday with opening speeches by ICC Chair Aqqaluk Lynge and by two of his fellows, President of RAIPON Grigoriy Ledkov and President of Saami Council Aile Javo, as well as by emeritus professor Robert Petersen.
Hosted by Greenlandic member of the Danish Parliament Sara Olsvig, the conference took place in the Landstingssalen of the Christiansborg Castle, i.e. the exact venue of the first meeting of Arctic indigenous peoples in 1973. Mssrs. Lynge and Petersen, two of the few persons present at today’s celebratory conference who had also witnessed first-hand the meeting 40 years ago, took turns at harking back to that epochal event and the subsequent developments it was to foreshadow.
The European Court of Justice, in a decision issued on October 3, found that the European Court was correct when earlier this year, on April 25, it ruled that an appeal by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and its allies is inadmissible.
All in all some 17 parties - organizations like the Fur Institute of Canada, the Canadian Seal Marketing Group, the Inuit Circumpolar Council Greenland, hunters and trappers groups and fur companies in Canada, Norway and Scotland – had teamed up with the ITK on the court challenge.
Seeks an Executive Secretary
Initial Location: Copenhagen, Denmark with eventual relocation to Tromsø, Norway
The Arctic Council (AC) is an international forum that promotes co-operation on environmental protection and sustainable development issues in the Arctic. The Council is a unique body because it provides for the full participation of Arctic Indigenous Peoples.
Known as Permanent Participants, representatives of six Arctic Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations work side by side with the eight Arctic Member Countries. The Council’s mandate includes incorporating the traditional and cultural needs, values, rights and practices of Arctic Indigenous Peoples in its programmes and policies.
The Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat was established to facilitate and assist the participation of the Arctic Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic Council.
November 7, in honor of founding father of Inuit Circumpolar unity Eben Hopson, who was born on that date in 1922, was declared "International Inuit Day" at the 2006 Inuit Circumpolar Council general assembly in Barrow, Alaska.
The late North Slope Borough mayor hosted the first ICC assembly in 1977, gathering delegates from Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Chukotka and passing resolutions on land claims, environmental protection, health, culture and education. The Vision of Mr. Hopson was to preserve a unique culture and way of life threatened by destruction from industrial developments and cultural imperialism coming from the South.
According to a news report from Chukotka, Russia - home to the smallest branch of Inuit, numbering only around 1,700 – nevertheless, people there celebrate the world’s longest Inuit Day. As a matter of fact it’s a whole season, lasting from mid-October til mid-November. Which makes good sense, taking into account the endlessness of summer day and winter night in the Arctic.