As adopted by the IASSA General Assembly convened in Copenhagen May 23, 1998, during the Third International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS III).



This statement of principles has been formulated in accordance with the Bylaws of the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) adopted by the IASSA General Assembly on 29 October 1992. These Principles have been formulated to provide guidelines for all researchers working in the North in the social, natural and health sciences, and in the humanities. These principles are intended to promote mutual respect, communication and partnerships between researchers and northern residents. This statement is not intended to replace other national, professional or local guidelines. It is understood that there must be continuing assessment of the principles.



All scientific investigations in the North should be assessed in terms of their potential human impact and interest. Social science research, particularly studies of human subjects, requires special consideration, as do studies of land and resources that have economic, cultural, social and spiritual value to Native people. In all instances, it is the responsibility of the principal investigator on each project to implement the following:

1. The researcher should consult with the appropriate regional and/or local authorities regarding planned research within their territories. Informed consent should be obtained from appropriate authorities and from any individuals involved in the research. In seeking informed consent, the researchers should identify all sponsors and sources of support; the person in charge and all investigators involved in the research; the purposes, goals, and time frame of the research; data gathering techniques (including audio and video recording, photographs, etc.) and uses to which they will be put and foreseeable potential benefits and risks. The responsibility of researchers to inform continues after approval has been obtained.

2. The researcher should consult with and, where applicable, include local people in project planning and implemen-tation. Realistic opportunities should be provided for them to express their interests and to participate in the research.

3. Research results should be presented to local communities in non-technical terms and where possible translated into local languages. Copies of research reports and other relevant materials should be made available to local communities.

4. Subject to the requirements for anonymity, publications should always refer to the informed consent of participants and give credit to those contributing to the research project.

5. The researcher must respect local cultural traditions, languages, and values. Efforts should be made to incorporate local and traditional knowledge and experience and to acknowledge the principle of cultural property.

6. Efforts should be made to provide meaningful experience, training and economic opportunities for local people.

7. In cases where individuals or groups provide information of a confidential nature, their anonymity must be guaranteed in both the original use of data and in its deposition for future use.

8. Research on humans should only be undertaken in a manner that respects their privacy and dignity. Subjects must remain anonymous unless they have agreed to be identified. If anonymity cannot be guaranteed, the subjects must be informed of the possible consequences of becoming involved in the research.

9. All research involving children must be fully justified and never undertaken without the consent of the children and their parents or legal guardians.

10. Sacred sites, cultural materials and human remains cannot be disturbed or removed without appropriate local consent and in accordance with international, national and local laws and regulations.


Declaration on Indigenous Knowledge

On June 9, 2017, ICASS IX hosted and Indigenous Knowledge roundtable discussion organized by the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat. 

The panelists of the roundtable have developed the following statement:

Indigenous Knowledge provides a foundation for individual and collective well-being of past, present, and future generations of Arctic Indigenous Peoples. This knowledge system holds inherent value and methodologies, functions and validation processes.  Indigenous Knowledge empowers communities throughout the circumpolar north to significantly advance our understanding, intellectual performance and management of the Arctic.

We are thankful that IASSA has invited and showcased issues and topics that are inclusive and community driven.  IASSA has demonstrated their willingness to expand the ways in which Indigenous scholars and Indigenous Knowledge holders are engaged. By providing a platform that brings together a holistic and meaningful conversation, this progress will continue within IASSA and beyond.

Moving forward we suggest the following actions that can be supported by IASSA, individual IASSA members and the broader research community:

  1. Revise IASSA research principles to explicitly include Indigenous Knowledge.

  2. Clearly declare and ensure permanent support for Indigenous Knowledge within IASSA as defined by Indigenous Peoples, e.g. the development and supporting an Indigenous Knowledge Working Group or task force.

  3. Produce a white paper synthesizing existing national and international ethical protocols for the engagement of Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous communities.

  4. Work with Indigenous Knowledge holders to develop best practices for the engagement and utilization of Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Knowledge holders within Arctic research.

  5. Sponsor and facilitate Indigenous Knowledge workshop(s), early career training opportunities or other engagement formats within IASSA.

  6. Advocate for Indigenous Knowledge engagement by other Arctic research organizations, at the international and national levels (Arctic Council, IASC, national funding agencies, those that define research needs and other appropriate organizations).

  7. Investigate methods that position Indigenous communal oral histories as being of equal value to peer-reviewed science in Arctic studies.

In addition, we call on individual researchers to ask themselves: What Can I Do?

Indigenous Knowledge round table panelists:

Carolina Behe, Inuit Circumpolar Council

├ůsa Larsson Blind, Saami Council

Liza Mack, Aleut International Association

Professor Dr. Svein Disch Mathiesen, UArctic Institute for Circumpolar Reindeer Husbandry at International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, Saami University of Applied Science and UIT Arctic University of Norway 

 Dr. Andrey Petrov, University of Iowa, Yukon College, IASSA

Moderator: Dr. Noor Johnson, Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge in the Arctic

The statement as pdf.




Contact Information

IASSA Secretariat


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Phone: 1-319-273-3778
Fax: 1-319-273-7103



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