In September 1993 the Sami Reindeers Herders Association of Norway (NBR/NRL)organized an international Reindeer Peoples’ Festival in Tromsø, in cooperation with the Russian Government and reindeer herders from Russia. Approximately 360 representatives from reindeer husbandy regions in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Alaska participated in the Festival. This was the first time in history that different reindeer peoples were able to meet with each other. This event marked the beginning of a unique cross-border cooperation between circumpolar reindeer peoples which ultimately resulted in the establishment of the Association of World Reindeer Herders.
The First World Reindeer Herders’ Congress took place in the city of Nadym, in the Yamal region of Russia, in 1997, and was hosted and funded by the Russian government together with the regional authorities in the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Participants included representatives from reindeer husbandry in the Nordic countries and Russia. The Congress resulted in the establishment of the Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH). The aim of the association is to promote professional, cultural, social and economic relations between world reindeer peoples, as well as to disseminate information about the reindeer husbandry.
The establishment of WRH provided reindeer herders with a forum for contact and cooperation, which contributed to bringing reindeer husbandry onto the international agenda. Already in 1999, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Knut Vollebæk, took the initiative to add reindeer husbandry on the agenda of the international Arctic cooperation, which resulted in WRH being granted Observer status to Arctic Council.
In 2001, the Second World Reindeer Herders’ Congress was held in Anar (Inari), in Northern Finland and was funded by the Finnish Government. The Congress adopted the ‘Anar-Declaration’, which is the first circumpolar statement developed by reindeer herders, and presents guidelines for the development of a sustainable reindeer husbandry for the future.
The Third World Reindeer Herders’ Congress took place in the city of Yakutsk, in the Russian Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in March 2005. The Congress adopted the ‘Yakutsk-Declaration’, which emphasizes reindeer husbandry’s participation in the international cooperation in Arctic. The Congress was hosted and funded by the Government of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and was part of an impressive campaign regarding the profile of reindeer husbandry and the Indigenous Peoples’ of the Republic.
The most recent WRH Congress was held in Guovdageaidnu / Kautokeino in Norway in 2009 - about which you can find more information here.
At the recent Association of World Reindeer Herders IV Congress held in Kautokeino / Guovdageaidnu, a new President, Vice President, Council and Board was chosen. We can now introduce visitors to the personnel. The Presidents, Vice Presidents and Secretariat (unchanged) can be found here, while the new Council can be found here.