The Republic of Belarus consistently draws attention of the international community to the most pressing issues related to the Chernobyl Disaster, including rehabilitation of contaminated territories, revival of economy and ensuring safe living conditions for people in the affected areas.
I. International cooperation on Chernobyl within the United Nations
The United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) adopts Chernobyl-related resolutions every three years. They are an important instrument for the strengthening of the relevant intergovernmental cooperation and give necessary mandate to the organizations of the UN system to implement international Chernobyl-related programmes and projects.
The most recent in a series of such resolutions “The long-term consequences of the Chernobyl disaster” was initiated by Belarus and adopted by consensus at the 7st session of the UN General Assembly on December 8, 2016. The document calls on member states and UN agencies to harmonize approaches to international Chernobyl cooperation also after the UN Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected Regions is over. An important symbolic element of the resolution is the proclamation of April 26 as the International Day of Remembrance of the Chernobyl Catastrophe. In addition to Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, the resolution was co-sponsored by 58 countries.
The United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Chernobyl under the coordination of the UNDP significantly contributed to enhancement of the international Chernobyl cooperation in accordance with UN Action Plan on Chernobyl (2006-2016) during UN Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected Regions.
UNDP Administrator Ms.H.Clark visited Belarus in May, 2014. During the visit Ms.H.Clark was received by President of the Republic of Belarus Mr. A. Lukashenko. She also visited the Chernobyl-affected territories in the Gomel Region.
The first IATF meeting was held in Minsk in May 2014. The event initiated development of the new framework for the international Chernobyl cooperation for the post-2016 period. The subsequent expert meetings in Vienna (2015) and Minsk (2015 and 2016) elaborated on joint recommendations to further enhance the multilateral cooperation.
The International Conference “Chernobyl — Thirty Years After. From an Emergency Situation to a Revival and Sustainable Socio-Economic Development of Affected Territories” was held on April 25, 2016 in Minsk. Representatives of 37 states, 12 intergovernmental organizations, and a number of foreign non-governmental organizations participated in the event.
The conference summed-up the results of the UN Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected Regions. Its final Declaration with an appeal to develop and implement under the UN auspices the International Initiative “Achieving Sustainable Development Goals in the Chernobyl-Affected Regions through Partnerships, Innovations and Investments" was circulated as an official document of the UN General Assembly.
The President of the Republic Belarus awarded UNDP Administrator Ms.H.Clark and UNDP Regional Director Ms.Č.Sultanoglu with the Orders of Francysk Skaryna for UNDP’s significant contribution to overcoming consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster and rehabilitation of affected territories.
A special commemorative meeting of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to Chernobyl took place on April 26, 2016 in New York. Belarus granted an honorary right to speak on its behalf to the Head of the Irish Charity Organization “Chernobyl Children International” Ms. A.Roche. It highlighted the value of consolidation of efforts to overcome consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster and assist the affected population. The Permanent Representative of Belarus to the UN made a statement on behalf of the Group of the Eastern European States and stressed that the United Nations efforts to coordinate the Chernobyl cooperation constitute an investment in the future, sustainable development and safety.
II. Cooperation with donors
The overcoming of long-term consequences of the largest man-made catastrophe of the 20th century requires advanced technologies, scientific and financial resources of the whole international community. The Republic of Belarus actively interacts with foreign partners – governmental and non-governmental organizations, agencies, funds, companies and citizens of foreign countries on minimization of consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster.
In 1991-2015 the Republic of Belarus received an international technical support from intergovernmental organizations which amounts up to US$ 85 million. Donor countries and foreign non-governmental organizations provided charitable assistance which makes total US$ 400 million.
Major Chernobyl-related projects were implemented in the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. Inter alia, the Center of Radiation Medicine and Human Ecology in Gomel was constructed and provided with an advanced equipment; policlinics and hospitals in affected regions of Belarus and Russia were built. The Belarusian-Russian Information Center on the Problems of the Consequences of the Catastrophe at Chernobyl NPP with branches in Minsk and Moscow was established. The fundamental atlas which was devoted to the forecasts of radiology situation in Belarus and Russia for the period till 2056 was published. The total cost of the joint Belarusian-Russian projects amounts to US$ 90 million.
The Ministry of Emergency Situation of the Republic of Belarus is a national coordinator of Chernobyl-related projects of UNDP, IAEA, WHO and UNICEF, including the regional IAEA’ project “Support for the Rehabilitation of the Areas Affected by the Chernobyl NPP Accident” and UNDP, WHO, UNICEF projects carried out within the International Chernobyl Research and Information Network (ICRIN).
III. Advocacy for keeping the Chernobyl issue in the international agenda
Belarusian diplomatic and consular missions are constantly working to ensure that international Chernobyl cooperation remains in the in the agenda.
These actions are focused on necessity of retention and development of the international Chernobyl cooperation under the UN auspices and its support by bilateral programmes and projects. In April-May 2016 almost all Belarusian diplomatic and consular missions organized memorial actions aimed at raising of awareness of the consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster and drawing of worldwide attention to grass-roots needs, revival and sustainable development of Chernobyl-affected regions.
On 20 April, 2016 in the UN Headquarters (New York) Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Mr. V.Makei took part in the opening ceremony of the Chernobyl exhibition arranged by Belarus. The special event and the exhibition of paintings by Belarusian children “Colouring Chernobyl” was held in the Palace of Nations (Geneva). The photo exhibition “Belarus: 30 years after the Chernobyl accident” was organized in the Council of Europe (Strasbourg). The Chernobyl-related “round tables” and other thematic events were organized with the support of Belarusian diplomatic and consular missions in the Headquarters of the European Parliament (Brussels) and the OSCE (Vienna). Numerous interviews and media publications as well as other events were organized in countries of accreditation of Belarusian diplomatic and consular missions.