New UN human rights investigative mechanism in Belarus must accompany political dialogue

After holding an urgent debate today to scrutinise the serious human rights violations surrounding the 9 August presidential election in Belarus, the UN took immediate action, mandating its most senior human rights official to outline a process for accountability in Belarus before the end of the year.

Human Rights House Foundation welcomes this new apolitical investigative mechanism as an important tool to support and inform critically needed political dialogue in Belarus. Furthermore, perpetrators of human rights violations on behalf of the Belarusian authorities are now on notice that they will not be able to continue these violations with impunity. 

“The action by the UN Human Rights Council must be followed by political dialogue between the authorities and representatives of those seeking free and fair elections, and protection of their human rights, facilitated by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),” said Maria Dahle, Director of the Human Rights House Foundation. 

The new resolution identifies the most egregious human rights violations that have taken place in Belarus over the electoral period, including disproportionate use of force against legitimate protesters and sexual violence against detainees. The resolution sends a strong message to the Belarusian authorities, and those acting on their behalf, that the international community will ensure accountability for human rights violations taking place in the country. This follows the move by 17 members of the OSCE yesterday to trigger a separate independent investigation in Belarus after the authorities there indicated they would not engage in national dialogue. 

The Human Rights Council resolution has started an important and non-political accountability process by creating a new monitoring mechanism. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has been mandated to investigate and document human rights violations taking place in Belarus, and to report back to the Human Rights Council before the end of the year, and then again in March, with recommendations for further action. 

At the same time, a solution to the on-going human rights crisis in Belarus requires a political solution.  

“Human Rights House Foundation urges the Belarusian authorities to accept the offer from the OSCE’s Chairperson-in-Office (CiO) to facilitate dialogue between the Belarusian authorities and opposition representatives which also reflects the critical role of independent Belarusian civil society,” Dahle said.

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