University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Belarus, U.N. Doc. A/50/18, paras. 321-352 (1995).



Forty-seventh session

Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination


321. The eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth periodic reports of Belarus submitted in one document (CERD/C/263/Add.4) were considered by the Committee at its 1101st and 1102nd meetings, on 1 August 1995 (see CERD/C/SR.1101 and 1102).

322. The report was introduced by the representative of the State party, who highlighted the principal points of the report, drawing the attention of the Committee to the new legislative acts adopted during the past few years with due regard paid to the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Particular reference was made to the relevant parts of the Constitution, to the Act on National Minorities in the Republic of Belarus, the Bishkek Agreement, article 71 of the Criminal Code, article 6 (1) of the Code of Labour Laws, the Act on Trade Unions, the National Housing Programme and acts relating to the right to education, culture and access to information. The representative of the State party indicated that during the reporting period - from 1988 to 1 July 1995 - no criminal proceedings had been recorded regarding allegations of racial discrimination.

323. Members of the Committee welcomed the resumption of dialogue with the State party and observed that Belarus transition to democracy and a multiparty system was proceeding without serious ethnic tension or strife of the kind that had developed in most other former republics of the Soviet Union, for which the country deserved credit. Having noted that political and economic transition inevitably entailed a certain incoherence in a country's internal situation and policies, they felt able to commend the report submitted by Belarus even though it was not fully in compliance with the Convention.

324. It was of particular concern to the members of the Committee that the report lacked information on the demographic composition of Belarusian society.

325. In relation to article 2 of the Convention, members indicated that although the report contained many references to various legislative acts, there was little information on the content of those acts and no information on the extent to which they had been implemented, especially as far as the Act on National Minorities in the Republic of Belarus was concerned. In addition, they noted that the report's coverage of the legal situation was far more detailed than the factual information provided on national or ethnic minorities.

326. The members of the Committee recommended that Belarus consider withdrawing its reservation to the Convention since this reflected the tensions of an earlier age.

327. With respect to article 4 of the Convention, members of the Committee indicated that legislation so far adopted, and in particular article 71 of the Criminal Code, appeared to be consistent with the provisions contained in subparagraph (a) of that article, but not with those contained in subparagraph (b). The report gave no indication of how or whether steps had been taken to prevent public authorities or institutions from promoting or inciting racial discrimination, or whether public officials received training to ensure that they did not encourage discrimination by word or deed.

328. In connection with article 5 of the Convention, members of the Committee, having noted that the report under consideration provided less information than the tenth periodic reports, wished to know whether national minorities were represented in the Supreme Council and local government and administration; whether it was possible to form political parties or other organizations in Belarus on the basis of ethnicity; and, given the large number of minorities in Belarus, whether any action had been taken to encourage integrationist multiracial organizations and movements to bring the minorities together and make them feel they were all part of one people.

329. In connection with article 6 of the Convention, members of the Committee regretted the lack of sufficient information with respect to its implementation. They noted that no cases of criminal proceedings for offences under article 71 of the Criminal Code had been recorded so far. Members recalled in that connection that the Committee on earlier occasions had remarked that the absence of such cases might stem from a lack of information on the part of the population regarding their rights and the remedies open to them, or from insufficient attention by the judicial authorities to that type of offence.

330. In connection with article 7 of the Convention, members of the Committee welcomed the attention being given in schools to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. At the same time, they wished to have more information on measures taken by the Government to provide training for teachers, magistrates and police officers in order to sensitize them to the nature of racial discrimination.

331. With respect to article 8 of the Convention, members asked whether Belarus would consider ratifying the amendments to provisions on the financing of the Committee (art. 8, para. 6).

332. In relation to article 9 of the Convention, members of the Committee emphasized that compliance with its paragraph 1, regarding the regular submission of reports, was of the greatest importance.

333. In connection with article 14 of the Convention, members of the Committee, noting that Belarus was a State party to the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, wished to know whether Belarus would consider making the declaration recognizing the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications from individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be victims of a violation by the State party of any of the rights set forth in the Convention.

334. Replying to questions and comments by members of the Committee, the representative of the State party said that the situation covered by the report was constantly evolving, so that it was more concerned with general trends. Because of that difficult situation of transition, the requisite statistics were not available.

335. As to the demographic composition of the population, the representative said that according to the 1994 census, there were 10.4 million inhabitants. The ethnic groups were divided as follows: Belarusians, 78 per cent; Russians, 13 per cent; Poles, 4 per cent; Ukrainians, 3 per cent; Jews, 1 per cent; and other nationalities, 1 per cent.

336. The representative said that there were no political parties in Belarus founded on a purely national or ethnic basis.

337. With regard to the amendment to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, the declaration provided for under article 14 of the Convention and the question of the reservation formulated by Belarus at the time of ratification, the representative of the State party assured the Committee that he would transmit its recommendations to his Government.

338. In conclusion, the representative of the State party thanked the members of the Committee for their many observations during the course of the debate, which Belarus would find helpful in drafting its fourteenth periodic report. He also asked the Committee to send Belarus information on the political representation of national minorities in State decision-making bodies together with concrete recommendations on the matter, which the Government could then follow in revising its national legislation. The Committee's assistance had been sought for the drafting of the electoral law currently under preparation in Belarus.

Concluding observations

339. At its 1122nd meeting, on 15 August 1995, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations:

(a) Introduction

340. Appreciation is expressed to the State party for its readiness to continue the dialogue with the Committee. It is regretted, however, that the eleventh and twelfth periodic reports were not submitted on time.

341. At the same time it is observed that Belarus has undergone radical political, social and economic changes since the Committee's last consideration of the State party's report in 1989 and that the process of transition towards a multi-party democracy and a market economy is still under way in Belarus with all the difficulties that such a process may generate.

342. It is noted that the State party has not made the declaration provided for in article 14, and some members requested that the possibility of such a declaration be considered.

(b) Positive aspects

343. The legislative measures adopted by the Government of Belarus with a view to bringing national legislation into conformity with the Convention are welcomed. In that connection, note is taken of the Act of the Republic of Belarus "On the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus" and the actual establishment of the Court; of the Act of the Republic of Belarus "On national minorities in the Republic of Belarus" designed to prevent and combat discrimination on grounds of nationality and incitement of enmity between different nationalities; of the law on culture of 1991; of the law on languages of Belarus of 1990; of the signature by Belarus of the Bishkek agreement on matters connected with the restoration of the rights of deported persons, national minorities and peoples; and of the forthcoming establishment of the Council on international relations.

(c) Principal subjects of concern

344. It is regretted that not enough information has been provided by the State party on legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the Convention.

345. Concern is again expressed that the State party has not implemented the provisions contained in article 4 (b) of the Convention and has not provided information on the practical implementation of provisions of article 4 (c).

(d) Suggestions and recommendations

346. The Committee recommends that in its next periodic report the State party fully reports on judicial, administrative and other measures adopted to give effect to the Convention.

347. The Committee further strongly recommends that the State party comply fully with the obligations under article 4 of the Convention and that necessary legislative measures be taken in order to give full effect to the relevant provisions of that article.

348. The Committee requests the Government of Belarus to provide it, in its fourteenth report due in 1996, with information on the ethnic composition of Belorussian society and on the situation of different minorities in terms of their participation in public life and their access to education, culture and information in their mother tongue.

349. The Committee draws the State party's attention to the periodicity of reporting as established by the Convention and urges the State party to comply therewith.

350. The Committee recommends that the United Nations Centre for Human Rights, within the framework of its Technical Cooperation programmes, assist Belarus, as requested by the delegation of the State party, in its efforts to harmonize national legislation with the Convention.

351. The Committee recommends that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted by the fourteenth meeting of States parties.

352. The Committee recommends that the State party's fourteenth periodic report, due on 7 May 1996, be a brief updating report.


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