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