The Sustainable Development Goals in Belarus
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Belarus:
07 July 2021
Belarus: Massive human rights violations unprecedented in scope and gravity, says UN expert
In her annual report to the Human Rights Council, Anaïs Marin said she had been informed about massive police violence against protesters, cases of enforced disappearance, allegations of torture and ill-treatment and the continuous intimidation and harassment of civil society actors. “The Belarusian authorities have launched a full-scale assault against civil society, curtailing a broad spectrum of rights and freedoms, targeting people from all walks of life, while systematically persecuting human rights defenders, journalists, media workers and lawyers in particular,” Marin told the Council. “The crackdown is such that thousands of Belarusians have been forced or otherwise compelled to leave their homeland and seek safety abroad; yet the downing of a civilian plane in Minsk on 23 May, for the apparent sole purpose of arresting a dissident who was on board, signaled that no opponent to the current Government is safe anywhere.”, the expert added. The significant deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus started in late spring 2020 and climaxed in the aftermath of the presidential election of 9 August, the results of which were widely contested. Malpractices were reported during the election campaign, as most opposition candidates were forced out of the race, whereas vote-count was marred by allegations of fraud. “Distrust in the legitimacy of the electoral outcome triggered spontaneous and largely peaceful popular protests to which the authorities responded with unjustified, disproportionate and often arbitrary force,” said Marin, who reminded that over 35,000 people have been detained since then for trying to exert their right to freedom of peaceful assembly, including women and children arrested for peacefully demonstrating solidarity with victims of police violence. “Since August 2020 I received innumerable allegations of beatings and ill-treatment, including torture in detention, but also allegations of rapes, enforced disappearances and even killings – all remain to be investigated.” Whereas according to available information impunity seems to prevail to this date for the massive human rights violations that occurred during the reporting period, the expert said she was equally alarmed by the hundreds of cases of criminal prosecution of human rights defenders and lawyers, journalists and medical staff simply for doing their job. “As the legal and judicial systems in Belarus protect the perpetrators of grave human rights violations, continuing impunity means that there is no guarantee of non-reoccurrence,” Marin said. “Hence the international community should keep on demanding the release and rehabilitation of all those still detained on political grounds, and support initiatives aiming at bringing perpetrators of the most serious crimes to account”. The UN expert also expressed concerns about the impact the ongoing crackdown has had on the right to education, pointing to discriminatory measures that persist in Belarus against people with disabilities, ethno-linguistic minorities, people living in rural areas and those deprived of liberty. She added that students and teachers have faced considerable pressure and intimidation for their social activism, and criminal charges have been pressed against dozens of them, with a restrictive impact on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including academic freedoms. “I call on the Belarusian authorities to put an end to their policy of repression, to immediately and unconditionally release those arbitrarily detained, and to ensure full respect for the human rights and legitimate democratic aspirations of people in Belarus,” the UN expert said, warning that a further aggravation of the human rights crisis and international self-isolation could have disastrous consequences for the whole country. Ms Anaïs Marin (France) was designated as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018. She is a researcher with the University of Warsaw, Poland. A political scientist specialising in international relations and Russian studies, she holds a Ph D from Sciences Po, where she studied international public law and comparative politics with a focus on post-communist transformations in Central and Eastern Europe. She has also taken part in OSCE/ODIHR election observation missions, including in Belarus. She has published extensively on Belarusian domestic and foreign policies. The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity. UN Human Rights, country page – Belarus For more information and media requests please contact Vrej Atabekian (+41 22 928 98 08 /firstname.lastname@example.org) or write to email@example.com. For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Renato de Souza (+41 22 928 9855 / firstname.lastname@example.org) Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts. Concerned about the world we live in?
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and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org
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07 March 2021
A Crisis with a Woman's Face
The pandemic is worsening already deep inequalities facing women and girls, erasing years of progress towards gender equality. Women are more likely to work in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Most essential frontline workers are women — many from racially and ethnically marginalized groups and at the bottom of the economic ladder. Women are 24 per cent more vulnerable to losing their jobs and suffering steeper falls in income. The gender pay gap, already high, has widened, including in the health sector. Unpaid care has increased dramatically owing to stay-at-home orders and school and childcare closures. Millions of girls may never return to school. Mothers – especially single mothers – have faced acute adversity and anxiety. The pandemic has also sparked a parallel epidemic of violence against women worldwide, with skyrocketing domestic abuse, trafficking, sexual exploitation and child marriage. Meanwhile, even though women represent the majority of health care workers, a recent study found that only 3.5 per cent of COVID-19 task forces had equal numbers of men and women. In global news coverage of the pandemic, just one of every five expert sources were women. All of this exclusion is itself an emergency. The world needs a new push to advance women’s leadership and equal participation. And it’s clear that such action will benefit for all. The COVID-19 response has highlighted the power and effectiveness of women’s leadership. Over the past year, countries with women leaders have had lower transmission rates and are often better positioned for recovery. Women’s organizations have filled crucial gaps in providing critical services and information, especially at the community level. Across the board, when women lead in government, we see bigger investments in social protection and greater inroads against poverty. When women are in parliament, countries adopt more stringent policies on climate change. When women are at the peace table, agreements are more enduring. Yet, women make up a mere quarter of national legislators worldwide, a third of local government members, and just one fifth of cabinet ministers. On the current trajectory, gender parity will not be reached in national legislatures before 2063. Parity among Heads of Government would take well over a century. A better future depends on addressing this power imbalance. Women have an equal right to speak with authority on the decisions that affect their lives. I am proud to have achieved gender parity among the leadership of the United Nations. Pandemic recovery is our chance to chart a new and equal path. Support and stimulus packages must target women and girls specifically, including through scaled up investment in care infrastructure. The formal economy only functions because it is subsidized by women’s unpaid care work. As we recover from this crisis, we must chart a path to an inclusive, green and resilient future. I call on all leaders to put in place six key building blocks: First, ensure equal representation– from company boards to parliaments, from higher education to public institutions -- through special measures and quotas. Second, invest significantly in the care economy and social protection, and redefine Gross Domestic Product to make work in the home visible and counted. Third, remove barriers to women’s full inclusion in the economy, including through access to the labour market, property rights and targeted credit and investments. Fourth, repeal all discriminatory laws in all spheres – from labor and land rights to personal status and protections against violence. Fifth, each country should enact an emergency response plan to address violence against women and girls, and follow through with funding, policies, and political will to end this scourge. Sixth, shift mindsets, raise public awareness and call out systemic bias. The world has an opportunity to leave behind generations of entrenched and systemic discrimination. It is time to build an equal future.
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01 March 2021
Discrimination is the opposite of inclusion
The day was first celebrated on March 1, 2014, launched by UNAIDS to spotlight and to combat discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. More broadly, Zero Discrimination Day aims to promote equality before the law and in practice throughout all of the member countries of the UN. Despite this solemn commitment of the world’s nations to protect everyone’s rights, we still face the issue of discrimination. It occurs every day based on a wide range of biases, prejudices and stereotypes, and is reflected in our decisions or behaviour, and form petty but harmful attitudes and practices. On Zero Discrimination Day this year, the UN System, through UNAIDS is highlighting the urgent need to take action to end the inequalities surrounding income, sex, age, health status, occupation, disability, sexual orientation, drug use, gender identity, race, class, ethnicity and religion that continue to persist around the world. None of the social groups is safe from infringement of rights; everyone can become a victim of discrimination: ageism, sexism, racism. According to UNAIDS, inequality is growing for more than 70% of the global population, exacerbating the risk of division and hampering economic and social development. Confronting inequalities and ending discrimination is critical to ending AIDS. The world is off track from delivering on the shared commitment to end AIDS by 2030 not because of a lack of knowledge, capability or means to beat AIDS, but because of structural inequalities that obstruct proven solutions in HIV prevention and treatment. For example, recent research shows that gay men and other men who have sex with men are twice as likely to acquire HIV if they live in a country with punitive approaches to sexual orientation than if they live in a country with supportive legislation. Discrimination is the opposite of inclusion. The Sustainable Development Goals agenda is based on the principle of “Leaving No One Behind” and respecting all people, their choices and their rights. Realizing the vision of a modern and prosperous Belarus requires the “Leaving no one behind” mindset. Prioritizing the needs of those who are marginalized, have less voice and participate less in decision making is more important than ever. Last week the Human Rights Council hosted a High Level Panel Discussion on human rights mainstreaming focused on inequalities exposed dramatically in the course of last twelve months. The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the legal, cultural, economic, political, and social exclusion around the world. It also has shown the interconnectedness of our human family. It has taken a disproportionate toll on women, minorities, persons with disabilities, older persons, refugees, migrants, and indigenous peoples. Progress on gender equality has been set back years. Emerging data shows increase of all forms of violence and in particular gender-based violence. The pandemic has also undermined the right to education and opportunities for children and young people. The failure to ensure equality in vaccination efforts is the new moral outcry. It’s staggering to know that, as we speak, 75% of all COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to patients by only ten nations. Citizens of 130 nations, meanwhile, have not received a single dose. Equity of vaccination reiterates equal rights. Nationalism in vaccination rejects it. Vaccines must be a global, available, and affordable public good for everyone, said panellists of the discussion. Often in this digital age, discrimination starts with language. On 22 October 2019, United Nations in Belarus organised a round table “Confronting Hate Speech: International and National Experience, Problems, and Way Forward” during which we discussed how it is an imperative for all of us to be sensitive and tactful about how we characterize other people in our speech and how media and justice system can help address this problem. Addressing hate speech does not require limiting freedom of expression or freedom of speech. It requires a sophisticated approach – recognising and spotting hate speech and providing legal tools for its victims to claim their rights in the court of law. We must work together to end hateful propaganda, cyberbullying, and fake news which create an imaginary enemy. Escalating hate speech can incite the worst of human instincts and crimes. It can lead to more division, exclusion, discrimination and eventually to hostility and violence. History teaches us too many lessons of this kind for us not to see and not to react to this kind of abuse. The human rights-based approach to development, promoted by the UN Secretary-General in his Call to Action on Human Rights offers a vision of sustainable development for all societies, embracing our diversity, freedom, everyone’s potential to play constructive part in creating a more harmonious and prosperous world. Today, as we mark the Zero Discrimination Day, let us think about our own biases. Let us also act on the responsibility to create an equal and inclusive world, without discrimination, for the future we want for all of us.
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28 March 2021
07 September 2020
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