Belarus overlooks UNGA resolution on the role of human rights defenders

2017 2017-11-22T17:12:00+0300 2017-11-22T22:00:36+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On November 20, UN Member States unanimously endorsed the free and independent role of human rights defenders at the UN. Belarus is not among the 75 countries that co-sponsored the key resolution by the UN General Assembly, which clearly stated the need to protect human rights defenders around the world. By doing this, the Belarusian authorities have witnessed their true position towards the human rights community, Ales Bialiatski, head of the HRC "Viasna", said.

The draft resolution was put forward by Norway, which chaired the negotiations. The resolution was adopted by consensus in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York. In addition to Norway 75 countries co-sponsored the resolution. The draft resolution was developed in close consultation with civil society.

Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide. Photo:

‘The international community has sent a strong signal. Human rights defenders have a key role to play in strengthening respect for human rights all around the world,’ said Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. With the latest resolution, this is a timely opportunity to celebrate defenders’ contribution to society and the crucial role they play in protecting rights. Such recognition and praise is much needed, with human rights defenders facing significant efforts to limit their freedoms and attack their legitimacy in many parts of the world, according to Human Rights House Foundation.

Ales Bialiatski. Photo:

“The fact that Belarus is not among the sponsors of the resolution shows the true position of the Belarusian authorities in relation to human rights defenders. Recently, they have been flirting with some human rights organizations, but in fact they view each and every of us as a menace — only for the fact that we often say the plain truth.

Instead of increasing the shrinking space for human rights in Belarus, instead of correcting their shortcomings and mistakes, they view us as their antagonists. But we’re out of their political games. Our mission is to protect the rights of all citizens, regardless of the interests and benefits of the ruling circles,” Ales Bialiatski said.

The Belarusian authorities have repeatedly ignored the adoption of international instruments related to human rights defenders. In particular, the Belarusian government disregarded the 2014 ODIHR conference in Bern, which adopted OSCE’s Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.