The Sámi Youth Council participated in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Rosa-Máren Juuso, Chair of the Youth Council of the Sámi Parliament, and Helmi Ljetoff, Vice Chair, attended the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York. The theme of the 23rd Session of the Forum is "Enhancing Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination in the context of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: emphasizing the voices of Indigenous youth”.

The Youth Council delegates delivered a speech on 16 April, in which its Chair Rosa-Máren Juuso expressed dissatisfaction with the repeat elections of the Sámi Parliament and the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court not to admit to the electoral register Sámi youth who had turned 18 after the initial elections.

“In addition to feeling marginalised and humiliated, we fear for the future of the Sámi Parliament. I am scared to think how we may have to suffer to protect our language and culture from outside decision-making,” says Rosa-Máren Juuso, Chair of the Youth Council.


“The theme of the Forum was to strengthen self-determination and to bring the voice of young people in particular into the debate. In light of this, it is deeply sad that decisions are being taken in Finland that fly in the face of these goals. Young Sámi people who have only just turned 18 will not be able to vote in the repeat election. This will undermine young people’s faith in the democratic system. It remains to be seen what the effect of this decision will have on voter turnout, for example. Young people are tired of wrestling with the Finnish law. Amending the Sámi Parliament legislation is of course a human rights issue, but at the same time we could also use it as an opportunity to focus on the issues and well-being of young people,” says Helmi Ljetoff, Vice Chair of the Youth Council.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) has the mandate to deal with indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. It provides recommendations and serves as a platform for dialogues between governments, Indigneous peoples, and UN specialised agencies. It convenes for the annual Session once a year at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Participation in the Sessions of the Permanent Forum is part of the activities set out in the Youth Council’s action plan.

Find out more about the  Forum.

Find out more about the Youth Council’s international activities.


Further information:

Rosa-Máren Juuso

Chair of the Youth Council

Tel. + 358 (0)44 779 9420



Helmi Ljetoff

Vice Chair of the Youth Council