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Opinions & Interviews

18 May 2017

Belarus MFA: Dialogue of experts on human rights is important for the state

Belarus MFA: Dialogue of experts on human rights is important for the state

MINSK, 18 May (BelTA) - Consultations of experts “The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: the Fifth Periodic Report of the Republic of Belarus” were held in Minsk on 18 May, BelTA has learned.

Th event was attended by representatives of government bodies and public associations, international organizations and diplomatic corps, informed Larisa Belskaya, the head of the main directorate for multilateral diplomacy at the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The consultations were dedicated to Belarus’ fifth periodic report and its submission to the UN Committee on Human Rights,” she said. “This is a big event for the country. Periodic reports are prepared by the states since it is the state that bears primary responsibility for the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, the human rights treaty bodies welcome alternative reports from civil society organizations. Historically, both reporting processes, by the state and the civil society, are not coordinated. These are separate processes,” Larisa Belskaya said.

“We believe that the participation of civil society, academia, business, the parliament, representatives of local authorities (i.e. all partners) can greatly enrich the discussion and can also lead to the development of new approaches, fresh look, concrete proposals and joint projects. This dialogue of experts creates opportunities for constructive communication, and can be an important element towards the strengthening of the official mechanisms and commitments to implement the 2030 agenda and international treaties, one of which is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Larisa Belskaya believes.

The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is confident that this dialogue promotes a positive climate in the society. These consultations will provide an opportunity for public associations and partners to voice their opinion on the issues reflected in the Belarusian report, articulate their vision of their possible future participation in the preparation of reports. “We look forward to a fruitful discussion and welcome mutual willingness of participants to hear each other,” she said.

According to her, thanks to foreign partners Belarus has been given the opportunity to get familiar with the international best practices in reporting to the UN Committee on Human Rights and cooperation of the state and civil society, which will be useful when possible participation of non-governmental organizations in the preparation of human rights will be considered in the future. “We attach great importance to the cooperation of all partners. This format of meetings, an open honest dialogue, promotes joint constructive work of all stakeholders in order to improve the system of the protection and promotion of human rights,” Larisa Belskaya said.

The event was attended by UN resident coordinator in Belarus Sanaka Samarasinha, the head of the EU Delegation in Belarus Andrea Wiktorin. The consultations were organized jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN Office in Belarus with the participation of the government bodies concerned, public associations and international organizations.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is one of the fundamental international human rights treaties. Participating states have undertaken to ensure respect for civil and political rights of all individuals within their territory and under their jurisdiction. Among those rights are the right to life and human dignity, equality before the law, religious freedom and privacy, freedom of speech, assembly and association, the right to a fair trial. 169 countries, including Belarus, have signed the Covenant.

The UN Human Rights Committee has been set up to monitor the implementation of the covenant. It is composed of 18 independent experts. All participating states are obliged to regularly provide reports to the Committee on how the rights enshrined in the Covenant are implemented. The state must provide an initial report one year after accession to the Covenant, and then upon request of the Committee (usually every four years). The Committee examines the reports and presents its views and recommendations to the state in the form of closing remarks.

In April 2017 Belarus sent its fifth periodic report, which contains answers to the list of questions from the Committee in the context of the preparations for the forthcoming dialogue. Belarus’ previous report was submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee in 1997.

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