Will Lukashenko ever listen to the UN?

On June 4, UN Special Rapporteur Miklós Haraszti has presented his report on the human rights situation in Belarus at the 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council. Mr Valentin Stefanovich, Deputy Chair of the Human Right Center VIASNA, was invited to participate after the UN member states had a chance to exchange their views. The presentation of the report, which was published in March, took almost ten minutes. Special Rapporteur Miklós Haraszti listed the main points of the report and noted that he had not been able to visit Belarus because the government there refused to issue him an entry visa. The lack of cooperation of Belarus led to the fact that the human rights situation in Belarus had to be explored abroad, on the basis of summaries and conclusions drawn from meetings with representatives of Belarusian civil society.

Not surprisingly, did the report spark  diametrically different  reactions among human rights activists and official representatives of Minsk, as well as among representatives of the different Member States. What role in the future of the country can play this document? We asked for the opinion a member of the Human Rights Centre VIASNA, lawyer Vladimir Lobkovich.

“Miklós Haraszti’s report is very important for Belarus as it is a chance to present  the true state of affairs at the highest level within the UN system – said Vladimir Lobkovich – Belarus is a country where human rights are grossly violated, and the world is remained about  it once again. ” It is also important that the report  presents not only the facts, about a bad situation of human rights, but also a number of recommendations to the Belarusian authorities, the implementation of which would improve the situation.

Is there therefore any hope that Minsk will acknowledge the report and fulfill  any of recommendations of the Council concerning the respect for human rights (in fact, the case concerns the obligations of Belarus as a member of the United Nations)? And is it possible to negotiate the respect for human rights in Belarus with the authorities, as proposed by some Member States during the presentation of the report?

“I am critical of the opinion, that the Belarusian authorities could go in the direction of any negotiations, and recognize the mandate of UN Special Rapporteur, who was not even allowed to enter Belarus. So far, the authorities do not indicate even a hint of  willingness to cooperate “, – said Vladimir Lobkovich.

As an example, Mr Lobkovich gave  a categorical refusal of  the official structures to listen to the conclusions of the working group of the UN Council for Unlawful Detention. Hence,  the negotiations should primarily include  representatives of non-governmental organizations, human rights defenders and experts, as the regime is clearly not interested.

The human rights defender also drew attention to the fact that the report was rejected by  Russia, Venezuela, Syria, and other countries where human rights are violated. As Mr.Lobkovich noted, support for the Belarusian authorities from non-democratic countries  is quite obvious. “None of these countries would like to see similar process at the UN  level concerning them. Hence dictators protect each other. ”


An interview with Valentin Stefanovich, the Deputy Chair of the Human Right Center VIASNA, soon on our website.



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