Svetlana Naumova Awards - Belarus Civil Society Digest
In the context of the high level political scandals a surprising number of new civil society developments takes place in Belarus. Belarusian NGOs launched new campaigns moving on social responsibility and institutionalising its networks. The civil sector activities covered education, business, targeted better social inclusion as well as police misconduct.
Svetlana Naumova awards. On 1 March, the awards ceremony named in honour of Svetlana Naumova, a prominent political scholar who passed away last year, took place in Minsk. The award was established by the civil campaign "Tell the Truth" and given in three categories - "Journalism", "Analytics" and "Hope." This year winners are Svetlana Kalinkina, chief editor of the Narodnaya Volya Valeria Kastsyuhova, editor of the website "Nashe mneniye", and Nasta Palazhanka, deputy chairwoman of the "Young Front".
National platform institutionalised. 34 Belarusian civil society organisations signed a Memorandum of Cooperation and became permanent members of EaP CSF National Platform. Now they have the opportunity to vote on the procedural and strategic issues of the National Platform. Among the signers there are Consortium "EuroBelarus", Ecodom, Legal Transformation Centre, Minsk Capital Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers, Association for Long-Life Education, Human Rights Center "Viasna", RADA, etc.
Education & Research
OEEC round table. On February 29, Office of European expertise and communication (OEEC) together with the Brussels-based "Office for Democratic Belarus" held a round table "European support for higher education in Belarus" in Minsk. The debate between the governmental bodies and NGOs has shown that there is no unity in the understanding of the principles of the Bologna process in the Belarusian academic community.
Hrodna Center "Third Sector" presents an educational program BY_HUB. On 17-18 March Hrodna hosts a training "How Internet technologies can help to achieve personal and organisational goals", which launches an educational program BY_HUB. The program invites to participation NGO representatives, journalists, bloggers who are interested in learning of modern communication technologies.
International Congress of Belarusian Studies. On 28-30 September International Congress of Belarusian Studies will take place in Kaunas (Lithuania). It is an annual meeting of Belarusian and foreign scientists, experts, analysts, representatives of public institutions engaged in Belarusian studies. International Congress of Belarusian Studies is organised by a Consortium of academic and expert organisations of Belarus, Lithuania, Poland and other countries, including Institute of Political Studies “Political Sphere”, BISS, Internet newspaper “New Europe”, etc.
Assembly of business circles. On 29 February, Minsk hosted XIII Assembly of Business Circles of Belarus "To modernization - Together." The event was attended by businessmen and representatives of 46 business associations. The event was organised by Minsk Capital Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers, Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship, with the support of the Council for Business Development. The Assembly adopted a draft "National Business Platform of Belarus - 2012" developed to facilitate improvement of business climate in the country.
The right on social responsibility. On 28 February, International Socio-Economic Foundation "Idea" conducted a talk show "1% Project: The Right to Social Responsibility". The talk show’s participants discussed the need for a law on social responsibility, and also got acquainted with the results of national research "Social Responsibility of the Modern Belarusian Business" commissioned by the Fund at the end of 2011. The talk-show, covered on the national television, was attended by representatives of business companies, NGOs, government agencies and journalists.
The chiefs of the colonies can be added to the EU blacklist. Non-profit institution Platforma declares that it will ask EU to include in a travel ban list representatives of prisons and detention centres, involved in torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment against Belarusians.
Legal experts, rights defenders criticise Belarusian police. On 1 March, prominent legal experts and rights defenders voiced criticism of the Belarusian police at a conference in Minsk. In particular, Mikhail Pastukhow, a former judge of the Constitutional Court, stressed that the Belarusians 'must think about how to make the police safe for the public, how to make them serve public interests and law exclusively.'
Review "Poverty and Social Inclusion in Belarus." The most important social issues were analysed in a pilot study, "Poverty and Social Inclusion in Belarus", prepared by economists of the IPM Research Center. Economists have analysed the poverty level in Belarus, identified the most vulnerable groups, and also examined the effectiveness of existing social transfers.
Office for the Rights of People with Disabilities launches a No Barriers banner campaign. On 1 March 2012 the Disability Rights Office launched a No Barriers banner campaign on four major Belarusian websites: tut.by, ej.by,naviny.by and interfax.by. The banners will appears on a daily basis on at least two of these website (rotating), except for weekends and holidays. Over the next month the total of four banners will call Belarusian citizens’ attention to mental and physical barriers, as well as issues that persons of disabilities are facing in employment and education.
Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials provided by Pact. This digest attempts to give a richer picture of the recent political and civil society events in Belarus. It often goes beyond the hot stories already available in English-language media.