The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Belarus traditionally oppose the politicization of human rights, considering that an integrated approach to all categories of human rights and freedoms, civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights should be the basis for constructive international cooperation in the field of human rights.

All human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and complementary. Approach to all categories of human rights should have the same attitude and emphasis.

International efforts to promote and protect human rights should be based on the principles of cooperation, equity and mutually respectful dialogue being aimed at strengthening national efforts of UN member states to implement their obligations in the field of human rights.

According to the latest 2019 Human Development Report of the UN Development Programme Belarus ranks 50th in the Human Development Index and is among top countries with very high human development.

Belarus reached ahead of schedule the Millennium Development Goals related to primary education, gender equality, the eradication of poverty and hunger, reducing child and maternal mortality.

National Human Rights Action Plan.

Belarus has a necessary national platform for the promotion and protection of human rights, which includes legislative and institutional frameworks.

Belarus is one of the few countries that adopted National Human Rights Action Plans (NHRAP).

The Belarusian NHRAP was approved by the Government in late October 2016 and is comprehensive one. It includes 100 measures aimed at promoting the implementation of the State’s international obligations in the field of human rights including, inter alia, through the effective realization of UPR recommendations, human rights treaty bodies’ recommendations as well as initiative steps identified as national priority.

While drafting around 40 national NGOs and the UN agencies in Belarus had an opportunity to communicate their proposals to the plan.

The implementation of NHRAP is monitored by the Government on an annual basis. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinates the implementation and reporting processes. For the past period two reports were prepared to the Government and a number of results were publicly discussed.

The UN agencies, civil society organizations and other stakeholders were invited to participate in the implementation of NHRAP.

Among the key results of the NHRAP’s implementation are the following:

  • accession to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and adoption of the National action plan for the implementation of this Convention,
  • submission and presentation of all necessary periodic reports to the human rights treaty bodies, including on the implementation of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
  • consideration of the State’s periodic reports in a public and transparent manner,
  • encouragement of broader participation of civil society representatives in human rights events organized by state authorities,
  • promotion of public discussions of international trends in application of the death penalty.

The President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko at the 26th session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (July 5, 2017, Minsk) stated: “The elaboration of the first in the history of independent Belarus National Human Rights Action Plan has become the most important element of systemic ensuring of the entire complex of citizens' rights and freedoms. State organizations and civil society are involved as widely as possible in its implementation.”

Belarus is involved in realization of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) as well as UNICEF and UNFPA country programmes, which contain human rights components, and actively cooperates with the UN agencies and other partners to effectively implement them.

Moreover, events dedicated to different significant human rights days, including Zero Discrimination Day, International Children's Day, International Day of Commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust, are held annually with the support of the authorities.

Reporting to the human rights treaty bodies.

Belarus is a party to almost all core international human rights treaties and seeks to report regularly to the treaty bodies.

Currently, Belarus has no delays in reporting.

Since 2016 to this day 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 while presenting its reports.

The Belarusian reports to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are awaiting consideration.

In addition, in 2015 Belarus updated its Common Core Document as a part of national periodic reports which reflects the overall situation in Belarus in the field of human rights.

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

Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council, which represents an integrated and comprehensive overview of the situation with human rights in all countries of the world. 

In May 2015 Belarus reported to the Council under the second cycle of UPR. As a result Belarus received a total of 259 recommendations and accepted 168 relating to the whole range of human rights obligations and took note of 91.

The Republic of Belarus’ report consideration under the 3rd cycle of the UPR is scheduled in November 2020.

In December 2015 Minsk hosted the International seminar “Implementation of Universal Periodic Review results: consideration of a coordinated approach” organized jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN Office in Minsk and supported by OHCHR.

Belarus issued a standing invitation to nine thematic special procedures of the Human Rights Council:

  • 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, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance;
  • Special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences;
  • Special rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Belarus regularly provides special procedures with the information upon their requests.

Belarus continues not to recognize the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus created under the agenda item 4 of the Human Rights Council’s programme of work and considers it as a mechanism that politically grounded and has nothing to do with human rights in Belarus.

Engagement with civil society.

The Government is engaged in dialogue with civil society on different topics of human rights agenda.

In May 2016, December 2017, April and September 2018 expert consultations between state bodies and civil society organizations were held in Minsk on civil and political rights issues as well as prevention of torture. They were initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with UN Office in Minsk and NGOs in the context of implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan.

These consultations were attended by representatives and experts of around 40 national NGOs representing the whole spectrum of views in the country.

Moreover, NGOs are traditional participants of numerous other thematic annual national and international events.

The practice of such exchange of views on human rights agenda is going to be continued.

Bilateral human rights dialogues.

Belarus is increasingly open and engaged with the EU and the US on human rights issues. Since 2015 the country has conducted annual bilateral human rights dialogues with the US and the EU.

Human rights are also a standing item on the agenda of the Belarus–EU Coordination Group that meets twice a year. Civil society organizations are invited by the authorities on a regular basis to contribute to the Coordination Group and Belarus–EU human rights dialogue activities.

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