Security - a shared concept? Are the Sámi legitimate actors in the securitization move?


Kamrul Hossain


University of Belgrade – Faculty of Security Studies, Human Research Center



The concept – security – is about protection; protection from threats, and from risks of being threatened. Protection is sought by way of adopting various means, not limited to military means only. Today, security presents a broader understanding beyond traditional
approach to protecting sovereignty, and actors of security have also been structured broadly, which include, among others, individuals and communities at the sub-state level. Security of states receives legitimacy by sharing broadened elements of security with multi-actors at different levels. This aspect of security started being addressed already in the early 1990s with the endorsement of theoretical and policy oriented exercises.
The securitization theory as well as the notion of human security are reflective of this development conceiving both philosophical understanding in the promotion of knowledge in the field of security studies, and policy tools to promote human well-being at a broader level. However, both schools of security thoughts are largely identical as they offer non-traditional approach to understand the concept - security. Against this background, this paper explores how the exercise of security is shared with other actors within the states. In this context, I particularly look into the Sámi – a group of indigenous people of the Arctic in Fennoscandia inhabiting the Northern parts of three Nordic countries and in the Kola Peninsula in Russia – the region known as Sápmi. While many of the Sámi live outside of the Sápmi region today, there are still a significant number of populations living in their homeland in remote areas engaged in hunting, fishing, farming, and reindeer herding, and have been sometimes regarded as semi-nomadic. Many of them also increasingly engage themselves in modern activities, and take the opportunities from the new forms of human activities, such as from mining developments taking place in the region. Nevertheless, the Sámi inhabiting the remote region, in most cases, suffers from diverse challenges due to the ongoing regional transformation, mostly resulting from the consequences of climate change. While the maintenance of environmental integrity is important for the Sámi to carry on their sociocultural survival, they also look for economic sustenance to be better-off to cope with the emerging new situation. As a result, the Sámi argue for ensuring sustainable development and increased resilience in order to maintain their unique identity, while at the same time to enjoy the benefits of economic prosperity to improve their human security. In this paper therefore I highlight the need for the Sámi’s effective engagement in the framing of their own security as an actor in securitization move.