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Sustainable Indigenous Reindeer Herding as a Human Right

Faculty of Law, University of Lapland, Yliopistonkatu 8, 96300 Rovaniemi, Finland
Faculty of Law, University of Fribourg, Av. de l’Europe 20, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Frank Pasquale
Received: 8 December 2015 / Revised: 15 March 2016 / Accepted: 10 May 2016 / Published: 25 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law and Sustainability)
Full-Text   |   PDF [181 KB, uploaded 25 May 2016]


The specifically changing climate conditions in the arctic and subarctic tremendously affect the vegetation and the conditions of the snow. This, therefore, influences the possibilities for rangifer tarandus to feed. For many indigenous peoples across the global North, the herding of reindeer, however, is an extremely important source of income. When the increasing temperatures lead to snow melting a bit and then freezing over again, the reindeer loose access to their feed. This has led to the starvation of thousands of reindeer in Russia in 2013/2014. This paper will try to shed light on the background of the historic as well as the legal aspects of indigenous Sámi reindeer herders in the multi-state Sápmi area. While reindeer herding represents a significant livelihood for the indigenous population, the change in climate increasingly threatens the sustainability of this cornerstone of Sámi identity. This text aims to highlight existing rules of international human rights introduced to protect indigenous reindeer herders and the state’s duty to refrain from actions endangering indigenous livelihoods and to take positive action aimed at their protection. View Full-Text
Keywords: rangifer tarandus; reindeer; climate change; indigenous peoples; Arctic; Sub-Arctic rangifer tarandus; reindeer; climate change; indigenous peoples; Arctic; Sub-Arctic
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Kirchner, S.; Frese, V.M. Sustainable Indigenous Reindeer Herding as a Human Right. Laws 2016, 5, 24.

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