Subsistence? A critical analysis of the EU protection of indigenous peoples’ rights through the case of the EU seal regime

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Rasmussen, Marie Yvonne
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The EU’s protection of indigenous peoples’ rights is investigated through the case of the EU Seal Regime. In 1983 and subsequently in 2009, 2010 and 2915, the EU adopted a limitation in the trade in seal products. Although an Inuit Exemption was always included as a protection to the Inuit market, the EU Seal Regime is criticized for violating indigenous peoples’ rights. The EU seal legislation, the development of its scope and its praise and criticism is reviewed. The possible interpretations of the wording of the Inuit Exemption particularly the meaning of subsistence and the consequences for the level of protection provided is discussed. The vagueness of the formulation opens to interpretations reflecting a cultural misunderstanding and the Exemption – de facto if not directly – fails to protect the subsistence of Inuit and Inuit culture. No EU policies specifically relate to the protection of indigenous peoples living in relation to the EU. One way forward is a fair information campaign by the EU Commission on Inuit, Inuit realities and the Inuit Exemption. The EU’s protection of indigenous peoples’ rights is discussed in light of the concepts of universality and relativism. The EU should take care not to lose its otherwise good reputation as a protector of indigenous peoples’ rights.
Second semester University: Université de Montpellier
indigenous peoples, European Union, Arctic regions