Human rights organizations prepared a med-term report on Belarus' implementation of the recommendations of the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review


The report was prepared by a coalition of Belarusian human rights organizations: Belarusian Association of Journalists, Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Human Rights Center "Viasna", Lawtrend, Office for the Rights of People with Disabilities, Legal Initiative, Human Constanta - together with the Belarusian Association of Human Rights Lawyers and the environmental organization "Ecohome" under the overall coordination of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee. 


What the UPR is and why it is needed

Every 4.5 years, every UN member country undergoes the Universal Periodic Review, a kind of "exam" where it reports on its human rights situation. Other countries make recommendations to the reporting country on what needs to be improved. 

The country under review then voluntarily decides which of the recommendations it accepts. It is assumed that the country accepts and implements the recommendations voluntarily because it will make people's lives better. And since the review is periodic (every 4.5 years), there is an opportunity to see how the country has implemented the recommendations.

Belarus underwent the UPR procedure in 2010, 2015 and 2020.


The review is based on three key documents

The first is information prepared by the State concerned. The national report includes information on the normative and institutional framework for the protection of human rights, information on the implementation of international human rights obligations, national legislation and voluntary commitments, national priorities and initiatives to overcome challenges and improve the human rights situation, the State's expectations in terms of capacity building and requests for technical assistance.

The second is a compilation prepared by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of information contained in reports of treaty bodies, special procedures and other relevant UN bodies.

The third is a summary of additional "credible and reliable information" provided by other stakeholders, such as NGOs, national human rights institutions, trade unions, religious groups. This summary is also compiled by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The three reports on which the review of Belarus in 2020 was based can be found here

It should be recalled that human rights defenders submitted their coalition report at that time. They also promoted the List of Priority Recommendations of the National Human Rights Coalition for the UPR procedure.


Belarus and the UPR: 2020 - 2025

As part of the 2020 review, Belarus received 266 recommendations (and accepted 155 of them). The cycle will continue until 2025, when the State will provide information on how it has implemented these recommendations. 

Recommendations received by Belarus relate to ratification of international treaties, legal and institutional reforms, civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, rights of women and other vulnerable groups. 


Mid-term report of human rights defenders

Spoiler: everything is bad, especially in the sphere of civil and political rights.

In order to record at what stage in the implementation of recommendations the state is at the moment, the Belarusan Human Rights Coalition with the participation of other civil society organizations prepared a mid-term report. 

Of the 266 recommendations received by Belarus in the third cycle, 14 were not assessed due to the lack of sufficient information. The analysis showed that of the 252 recommendations evaluated, only 2 are being implemented by the State, 1 is in the process of implementation, 26 are being partially implemented and 223 are not being not implemented.

In addition, of the 9 recommendations that Belarus agreed to fully implement in this UPR cycle, human rights defenders assess that only 5 recommendations are being partially implemented (1 recommendation is not being implemented and 3 were not assessed). Of the 124 recommendations accepted by Belarus as already implemented in the state, 2 are actually being implemented, 1 is in the process of implementation and 20 are being partially implemented (90 are not being implemented and 11 were not assessed). Of the 18 recommendations partially accepted by Belarus, 1 is partially implemented and 17 are not being implemented. 4 recommendations accepted by Belarus as in the process of implementation are not being implemented. 

In the report, we did not just assess the implementation of recommendations, but also provided a commentary explaining the specific evaluation. 

For example, in assessing as not being implemented the recommendation from Greece to "adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that defines all forms of discrimination in accordance with international standards, and guarantee women equal access to work", which Belarus accepted as already implemented, we pointed to the absence of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation containing relevant concepts, including definitions of direct and indirect discrimination, effective mechanisms to address complaints of discrimination, and specific sanctions against discrimination. We also noted that women continue to face systematic discrimination in the workplace, with the list of prohibited professions for women, the gender pay gap and the "glass ceiling" and harassment persisting.

Numerous recommendations regarding legislation and its implementation in the area of freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and other civil and political rights, were assessed by human rights defenders as not being implemented, with reference to mass repression of "dissenters".