The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Belarus has consistently opposed the politicization of human rights, believing that international cooperation in this area should be based on equitable and mutually respectful dialogue between the parties concerned and on a comprehensive approach to the consideration of all categories of human rights and freedoms, both civil and political, and economic, social and cultural, as well as the right to development.
All human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and mutually reinforcing and each category of human rights must be treated equally and with equal attention.
Belarus notes with concern the recent increased politicization in the work of the United Nations human rights mechanisms, as well as the United Nations Secretariat, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. This is manifested in the departure of those structures from the principle of neutrality, including in the preparation of documents, decisions and statements on human rights issues, and in their clear neglect and silence on numerous systemic problems and grave violations of human rights in Western countries.
Belarus is of the view that international efforts to promote and protect human rights should be aimed at strengthening cooperative mechanisms and constructive “dialogue platforms” in the Human Rights Council, like the universal periodic review mechanism, and at strengthening the national capacities of UN Member States to fulfil their human rights obligations through technical cooperation.
The rankings of the UN bodies and other international organisations are a kind of indicator of the results of the states’ policies in the field of human rights. Thus, according to the UNDP 2020 Human Development Report, Belarus ranks 53rd in the Human Development Index and is among the 66 countries with a very high level of human development. Belarus achieved the Millennium Development Goals related to primary education, gender equality, eradication of poverty and hunger, reduction of child and maternal mortality ahead of schedule. The energetic efforts of the Government of Belarus are now focused on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Cooperation with human rights treaty bodies
Belarus is a party to almost all the core international human rights treaties and strives to submit regular reports to the treaty bodies.
Currently, Belarus has no delays in reporting.
From 2016 to date, Belarus has held dialogues with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in October 2016, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in November 2017, the Committee against Torture (CAT) in April 2018, the Human Rights Committee (CCPR) in October 2018, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in January 2020, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in February 2022 (CESCR). The initial periodic report of Belarus is pending before the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Belarus is eager to develop a constrictive and result-oriented cooperation with OHCHR.
In 2016 Belarus officially invited the High Commissioner to pay a visit to the country.
For a long time, Belarus and OHCHR fruitfully cooperated on the issue of combating human trafficking through a human rights-centered approach. A number of international technical assistance projects were successfully implemented in this area, including training courses for law enforcement officials from Belarus and other countries.
Belarus also invited the Office to support the implementation of NHRAP. In October 2017 a needs-assessment mission of OHCHR visited Minsk. The OHCHR experts met with representatives of Belarusian line ministries and discussed the prospects of cooperation. As a result of the mission, a number of specific areas were agreed for possible technical support.
For example, in September 2018 a training course for state authorities on the topic of reporting to treaty bodies was organized by the Office.
Belarus has also accepted in 2018 the nomination of a human rights adviser in the UN Office in Minsk with a view to facilitating the implementation of NHRAP.
Cooperation with the Human Rights Council’s mechanisms
Belarus supports the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) as a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council, a complex, comprehensive and based on universally recognized criteria review of the human rights situation in all countries of the world. Belarus stresses the importance of preserving in the UPR the principles of equality among UN Member States and the voluntary nature of implementation of recommendations.
Belarus underwent three UPR cycles in 2010, 2015 and 2020. In the third cycle, Belarus received 266 recommendations, of which 156 were accepted for implementation, relating to the comprehensive range of human rights obligations.
Belarus strives to maintain constructive interaction with the thematic special procedures mandate holders of the Human Rights Council, regularly engages in dialogue with them during the sessions of the Council and provides information and comments on their requests. At the same time, Belarus is convinced that it is counterproductive to adopt politically motivated country-specific resolutions and to establish on their basis special rapporteurs and other structures that, as practice shows, are proxy mechanisms for Western States. Therefore, Belarus is consistent in its position of non-recognition of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus and other similar country-specific mandates. Belarus is also opposed to the practice of establishing within the Human Rights Council mechanisms in the form of experts or their groups, whose selection and appointment is done in the absence of universally recognized criteria and relevant decisions by UN Member States and that prevent us from speaking of the independence of such experts.
Unfortunately, recently there has been politicization in the work of special thematic procedures, which is expressed on their part in encouraging the policy of “double standards”, a biased attitude towards some states and overt loyalty to others.
This is also expressed, inter alia, in the lack of a public reaction to documented human rights violations in Western countries and the deliberate failure to use the so-called “standing invitation” to visit Western states that needs attention. Despite the systemic problems in Western countries, individual mandate holders whose competence includes relevant issues have not visited such problematic countries for over 10, or even 15 years. Such thematic special procedures mandate holders lose credibility with States over time and engagement with them is reduced to irregular contacts. In addition, many Human Rights Council special procedures tend to deviate in their activities from the Code of Conduct for mandate holders.
As a sign of its openness, Belarus has issued the invitation to nine mandate holders of thematic special procedures of the Human Rights Council, in particular, to:
- Special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief;
- Special rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;
- Special rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences;
- Special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants;
- Special rapporteur on the right to education;
- Special rapporteur on the right to food;
- Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism;
- Special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery;
- Special rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
Bilateral human rights dialogues.
For a long time, Belarus has demonstrated its openness to discussing human rights issues within the framework of bilateral cooperation. In 2015-2020 the Belarusian side participated in bilateral human rights dialogues with the European Union and the United States, which were suspended due to the departure of Western countries in 2020 from the policy of constructive interaction with the Government of Belarus.
Currently, human rights issues are discussed on a regular basis within the framework of groups of countries in Geneva and New York, including the Non-Aligned Movement and the Like-minded Group of Countries. In addition, these issues are considered during the annual consultations between the Belarusian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Foreign Ministry.