Visiting Belarus visa-free

The retrospective look: major steps, initiatives, and achievements

1946-1991

Belarus came forward with its first major initiative already at the General Assembly’s first session in 1946. As suggested by the delegation of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic, the General Assembly adopted resolution “On prosecution of war criminals”. The resolution urged Member States to undertake vigorous steps with the view to identifying, arresting and extraditing war criminals to the countries, in which they had perpetrated their crimes.

Belarus persisted with that topic and at its suggestion the UN General Assembly adopted resolution on the non-application of time limit to war crimes and war criminals at its 23rd session, held in 1968.

At the 28th session in 1973, the General Assembly endorsed a Belarus-sponsored resolution on the use of scientific progress in the interests of peace and social progress, which served as the basis for further relevant UN declarations and resolutions related to the prohibition of development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons.

In the same year, Belarus was elected to a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council and successfully discharged its functions there in 1974-1975.

Belarus stood at the root of the United Nations’ Chernobyl agenda. In particular, in 1990, at its 45th session the General Assembly adopted resolution on “Strengthening of international cooperation and coordination of efforts to study, mitigate and minimize the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster”, which established the UN “Chernobyl” secretariat and set in motion an Inter-agency group at the United Nations. Subsequent General Assembly sessions via their relevant documents either reaffirmed or expanded the provisions of that resolution.

1991-present

Having acquired independence in 1991, Belarus has significantly expanded both the scope of its engagement in international multilateral co-operation within the United Nations, and its contribution to addressing global issues.

An independent Belarus was the first country of the former Soviet Union’s successor states to renounce nuclear weapons and fully withdraw them from its territory by the end of 1996. Moreover, Belarus became party to all major international agreements on non-proliferation like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Chemical Weapons Ban Convention, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

Likewise, Belarus ratified the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and the Lisbon Protocol. In 1995, the country has signed the IAEA Safeguards Agreement. A number of UN General Assembly resolutions have praised the above Belarusian efforts.

The proposal by the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko to create a nuclear weapon free zone in Central and Eastern Europe was Belarus’ major initiative in the United Nations in the area of international peace and security. The initiative was deliberated at the UN General Assembly’s 53rd session, as a result of which this organ adopted a relevant resolution in December 1998.

The Republic of Belarus has consistently pursued responsible export control policy. Specifically, in 1996 it established a state system dealing with registration, monitoring and physical protection of nuclear material. The country’s admission to the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2000 testifies to Belarus’ full compliance with international export control regulations.

Belarus was among most active advocates for the UN “Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects”, which was adopted at the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, held in July 2001 in New York.

In 2000, at the UN General Assembly’s 55th session the delegation of Belarus sponsored resolution “Measures to be taken against racial discrimination or ethnic exclusiveness and xenophobia, including, in particular, neo-Nazism” that was endorsed by the Assembly.

From 2002 onwards, Belarus has been sponsoring resolution titled “Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons”. The last time the resolution was adopted in 2011, at the 66th session of the UN General Assembly.

In 2000, the country’s leadership endorsed a concept that foresaw a gradual entry of Belarus into UN peace-keeping operations. Prompted by the concept, in 2001 Belarus signed with the United Nations the Memorandum on Stand-by Arrangements. In November 2003, Belarusian parliament enacted a relevant national law. And, in 2010, Belarus’ representatives began taking direct part in UN peace-keeping operations.

Starting from 2001, Belarus has been constructively engaged in co-operation with the UN Security Council’s Counterterrorist committee, which oversees how UN Member States implement commitments stemming from Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) and other relevant resolutions. Belarus is currently a party to all major UN-based international instruments against terrorism.

Ever since becoming independent, Belarus has done its best to contribute to global development agenda. The Republic of Belarus has actively participated in the drafting of outcome documents for a number of high-level international events, like the International Conference on Human Settlements (1996), the UN Habitat conferences, the UN General Assembly 19th Special session on the Agenda for the XXI Century (1997), the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (2001), the High-level Meeting on Sustainable Development (2002), the UN 2005 and 2010 Summits.

In 1997, as suggested by Belarus’ President A.Lukashenko, the country’s capital, Minsk, hosted the International Conference on Sustainable Development for Countries with Economies in Transition.

In April 2006, Minsk staged the International Conference “Twenty Years After Chernobyl: Strategy for Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected Regions”, which proved instrumental in outlining further areas for UN system’s action.

Belarus has traditionally been active during UN General Assembly sessions in advancing draft resolutions on integration of transition countries into the world economy.

In 2008, Belarus was among a number of states that established in the United Nations a new group of countries entitled to receive international development assistance, namely, the group of middle income countries. At present, Belarus along with its partners work at various UN institutions with the view to bringing their mandates more in line with special needs and requirements of that group of states.

Recent initiatives

Being fully committed to the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and proceeding from the postulate on non-interference in internal affairs of other states, the Republic of Belarus treats with respect the choices of state governance and public political order systems made by nations. Belarus believes that any nation that poses no threat to international peace and whose government is committed to developing its own country, should have the right to fully enjoy benefits arising from international co-operation, unencumbered by restrictions, sanctions and preliminary conditions.

With this in mind, the President of the Republic of Belarus has proposed from the UN Summit’s rostrum in 2005 to recognize the diversity of ways towards progressive development as a value of human civilization.

The initiative serves to supplement in a harmonious manner efforts by most countries to build a multipolar world and bolster international law. The initiative has found its place in a number of documents adopted either within the United Nations or the Non-Aligned Movement.

Another initiative put forward by the Head of Belarusian state relates to his call to the international community voiced at the 2005 UN Summit to take a strenuous action against human trafficking. Building on this, at the 60th session of the UN General Assembly (2005) Belarus proposed to forge a Global Partnership against Slavery and Human Trafficking in the XXI century as a means of bringing together all stakeholders in a common effort against the modern-day slavery.

According to studies conducted by different international organizations, human trafficking began to acquire threatening dimensions by the mid past-decade. Against this background, Belarus’ successful domestic anti-trafficking policy, whose effectiveness has been duly recognized by the international community, has lent it a moral right to propose steps to reinvigorate co-operation on the matter internationally.

As a result, starting from 2006 the UN General Assembly on a regular basis adopts a Belarus-sponsored resolution on improving the coordination of efforts in the fight against human trafficking. In July 2010, the UN General Assembly has endorsed the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons proposed by Belarus. Moreover, Belarus was instrumental in establishing in New York a Group of Friends, United against Human Trafficking, as well as its chapters in UN offices in Vienna and Geneva. The Group now includes in its ranks 21 UN Member States.

Thus, global international co-operation on human trafficking has become increasingly streamlined in recent years, which has been directly reflected in its growing effectiveness, not least in most countries concerned.

An important feature of the current system of international relations is the fact that alongside classic diplomacy practiced at the United Nations, its specialized institutions as well as regional intergovernmental entities, new forms of co-operation are being forged, namely, partnerships comprising in their ranks not only states, but also international organizations, civil society and private sector. These partnerships aspire to generate international community’s global action in tackling any specific contemporary problem.

Belarus views partnerships as a vital tool enlisted to institutionalize new forms of international co-operation that maintains a focus on narrow specialization, but involves a broader range of participants than states alone. Building global partnerships and making them increasingly available in the United Nations’ toolkit is an area to which Belarus devotes priority attention. We work intensively with interested partners at the United Nations and other international organizations on implementing the idea of partnerships, above all, in such areas as global development, energy, human trafficking, and youth.

Addressing energy-relates issues like provision and diversification of energy, as well as improvement of national economy’s energy efficiency is a crucial task for Belarus, as it is indeed for most countries around the world. Accomplishing this task allows a country to secure its political sovereignty, economic security, as well as prospects for sustainable development. In the contemporary context characterized by economic crises, growing adverse pressure exerted by the environment and climate change, as well as by rekindled international political tensions and competition, developing and transition countries’ access to energy, above all, to cutting-edge energy technologies is acquiring a paramount significance.

With this in mind, Belarus has been keen to advance on the global stage its proposal to establish a global mechanism that ensures access to technologies for new and renewable sources of energy for interested countries. In particular, as suggested by Belarus, the UN General Assembly convened thematic debate on energy in June 2009, which demonstrated immense general interest to the issue. At present, Belarus and its partners are working to nudge energy-related decision-making towards greater centralization by means of appropriate resolutions and decisions sponsored either at the United Nations or at its various institutions. That trend, undoubtedly, is in line with the goals of most states intent on safeguarding their energy security, not least by gaining better access to renewable energy.

Taking a deep look into crises underlying both global economics and most countries’ development processes reveals that their current impact as well as the prospects of their subsequent unfolding take a heavy toll on youth. Marginalization of youth, most of all in developing countries, by such means as growing unemployment, political alienation, and lack of opportunities for self-fulfillment leads to dire consequences associated with the rise of radical, anti-social and anarchic sentiment amidst youth. The trend puts a pronounced strain on global sustainable development.

It is for this reason, but also in view of tangible results yielded by Belarus government’s youth policy, that our diplomacy has been proactive in advancing the theme of youth. Specifically, during the 65th session of the UN General Assembly, Belarus came up with the initiative to foster prosperity of future generations. Essentially, the idea seeks to establish a new global partnership to protect the interests of youth, and come to grips with a number of challenges inherent to young people in many countries. Currently, Belarus is working towards convening a UN General Assembly thematic debate on youth, and placing this topic more firmly in the center of relevant UN institutions’ mandates.