Inuit leaders to work on Arctic rights declaration
Last Updated: Monday, November 10, 2008 | 5:35 PM CT
Inuit representatives concerned about Arctic sovereignty and other issues affecting the North plan to draft a declaration on the rights of Arctic peoples that they will present to the United Nations.
At an Inuit summit late last week in Kuujjuaq, Que., Inuit leaders from Canada, the United States and Greenland said world governments are fighting over control of the Arctic without consulting the indigenous Inuit who live there.
"We need to be at the tables where those decisions and discussions are taking place," Patricia Cochran, the Alaska-based chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, told CBC News on Friday.
Canada, the U.S., Denmark and Russia are among a number of nations vying to own more of the Arctic seafloor under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, in the hopes of tapping into resources such as oil and gas.
Inuit representatives also expressed concern about the opening of the Northwest Passage to international interests, especially as melting ice and snow uncovers more mineral wealth.
Inuit demand to be more fully involved in Arctic issues, said Mary Simon, president of the Canadian Inuit organization Inuit Tapiirit Kanatami.
"Well, if it doesn't happen right now, it will happen at another time," Simon said.
"We're not the type of people that give up easily, and our culture and our history shows that we don't give up at all."
Leaders at the summit agreed to draw up the declaration over the next six months, then present it to the United Nations and the Arctic Council.
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