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On the International Workshop «National Human Rights Institutions: Establishment and Functioning»

21 July 2014

The international workshop «National Human Rights Institutions: establishment and functioning» organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus together with the Office of the UN Resident-Coordinator in Belarus, the Secretariat of the Council of Europe, the Council of Europe Information Point in Minsk, as well as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), took place in Minsk on July 18, 2014.

The abovementioned workshop was held within the framework of implementation of the recommendations of the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in the UN Human Rights Council for the purpose of studying the international experience of establishment and functioning of the national human rights institutions (NHRI).

The representatives of the Russia’s and Kazakhstan’s state bodies, the representatives of the NHRIs from the United Kingdom, Russia, Portugal, Kazakhstan, experts from the USA, OHCHR, the Council of Europe, as well as the European External Action Service took part in the workshop as panelists. Belarus was represented by 18 state institutions and 22 NGOs.

The following issues were discussed in the framework of the three thematic panels of the workshop: the variety of the national human rights mechanisms (including interagency commissions, parliamentary committees, ombudspersons, national agencies and etc.), the practical aspects of establishment and functioning of NHRIs, including best practices and challenges in their activities,  their cooperation with the governmental bodies and civil society organizations, the international accreditation of the NHRIs as well as their activity in the international arena.

The participants of the workshop noted the significance of promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedom.

Participants stated their support to NHRIs and emphasized their role in the nurturing of the civic stand, as well as the constructive and mutually respectful dialogue between NHRIs and governmental authorities.

Also some doubts were expressed concerning the effectiveness of functioning of the NHRIs, in particular, possible duplication of the leverages available at governmental disposal for the promotion and protection of human rights and lack of the efficient tools to respond to most daunting problems within a society.

The outcomes of the workshop will be taken into account for the elaboration of the common ground position by all governmental bodies on the advisability of establishment of a NHRI in Belarus.

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