Here you can find out more about some of the conference contributions. 

Runar Myrnes Balto, Photo: Liv Inger Somby, Sámediggi
Runar Myrnes Balto, Member of the Governing Council of the Sámi Parliament: "Defining the Road to True Reconciliation – Concrete Expectations for Sámi-Norwegian Relations"

The Sámi Parliament is reviewing a commission report on reconciliation, with public and digital hearings. A comprehensive review will culminate in a plenary session in March 2024, followed by deliberations with the Norwegian Parliament. The presentation will argue that reconciliation between the Sámi and the Norwegian state not only requires a dedicated process with consultations about reconciliatory measures, but it is also crucial that this process receives its own dedicated case handling, just as the Kven and Forest Finns deserve the same; reconciliation is a matter between each people/group and the state. Furthermore, the presentation will highlight that reconciliation cannot be legislated but involves multiple factors, including ceasing ongoing assimilation, considering reparations and ensuring the Sámi people recourses for cultural revitalization. The key point is that true reconciliation demands focus, concessions, and long-term commitment.

Reconciliation, justice and injustice: The Norwegian context

By Else Grete Broderstad and Eva Josefsen

In this presentation we will focus on how the Norwegian TRC narrates the assimilation policy versus the assimilation. The Norwegian TRC belongs to a cluster of TRCs created not because of regime change but established in old and stable democracies, in non-transitional societies. By drawing on the scholarly work on reconciliation understood in relation to concepts of justice and injustice, we will review the TRC’s comprehension of the end point of the assimilation policy and their approach to addressing reconciliation.

Keynote by Dr. Bonny Ibhawoh, Professor, McMaster University (Via link):

Affirming the Universality of Truth-Seeking: Confronting Narratives of Normative Exceptionality in Truth and Reconciliation Processes in Stable Democratic States.

Truth Commissions have become a global project. Once confined to transitioning states in the Global South, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs) have spread to democratic states in the Global North. Several stable democratic states have adopted the TRC model to address violations against indigenous people, racial and ethnic minorities, and political groups. In Canada, Australia, Greenland, and Norway, where TRCs have addressed the state’s historical relations with indigenous people, academic and public debates have centred on the suitability of the TRC model for addressing these violations in stable democracies. Skeptics argue that while TRCs may be useful in fragile post-conflict and post-autocratic transitioning states with weak legal and judicial systems, stable democracies often have well-established legal norms and judicial systems best suited for addressing human rights violations. This talk critiques this argument for normative exceptionalism. It makes a case for the universal relevance of the TRC model for addressing human rights violations and their unique role in redressing historical injustices against indigenous peoples.

Hans Morten Haugen, dr. juris, dr.philos, Professor of International Diakonia, VID Specialized University: 

How can human rights strenghen truth and reconcilation processes, and how can human rights serve to weaken these processes? 

Haugen will explore how human rights might assist in the decision-making processes and by such inclusive processes foster reconciliation. This can be illustrated in this model, based FAOs PANTHER framework:                                                                                                                               
Hans Morten Haugen Foto: Private 
Principles are operationalised as minimum requirements for an adequate decision-making process, that apply to states, corporations and non-governmental organisations.

The lecture will also explain how making human rights claims might impede dialogue between groups of persons with opposing interest.

Eli Skogerbø, UiO & Eva Josefsen, UiT:

Nothing to report: explaining the lack of media reporting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Eli Skogerbø Foto: Private

Commissions of truth, as the Norwegian TRC, represent efforts by states to address histories of past injustices, thereby seeking to reckon with and change the «grand narrative» of the nation (Andrews 2003). The work and findings of such commissions internationally have been highly mediatised events, as examples from South Africa, Canada and Australia demonstrate. News media and other public communication processes play important roles both for initiating and reporting on the work and findings of the commissions. In Norway, previous research has shown that the reporting on the process towards setting up the TRC attracted considerable journalistic attention and public debate, whereas attention fell during its years of operation, until the final report was submitted on 1 June 2023. The TRC remained a central issue on the news and debate agendas of Sámi, Kven, and news media located in North Norway, the traditional Sámi lands and, also, home to the historic settler communities of the Kven people, but the issue was silenced and overshadowed in nationwide media and arenas for public debate. Our research question in the current paper is to explain why the TRC was overshadowed. We document that the low media attention to the TRC continued in 2023 until the day of the submission. To explain the lack of attention from nationwide news media, we draw on concepts and theories of media and news logics, news subsidies and media hierarchies, and combine them with analyses of the TRC’s work mode, communication and source strategies during its time of operation. Our findings show that the TRCs mode of operation worked contrary to news logics, thereby disadvantaging rather than facilitating media reporting.