Making Belarus more inclusive

United Nations works in Belarus since 1992, almost from the same time as our newly independent state emerged
United Nations works in Belarus since 1992, almost from the same time as our newly independent state emerged. The areas of its work remain very broad: climate change, environment protection and energy efficiency; migration and asylum; economic and local development, human trafficking and domestic violence, health, child protection, democratic governance and human rights, Chernobyl Consequences, gender equality and many more. Through both its words and its actions, Belarus has helped to make the UN stronger at the national level and on the global stage. Only thanks to impressive collaboration, have we made through numerous projects, conferences, campaigns, meetings, actions, etc.

At this point, it is very hard to pass the opportunity of mentioning once again the most remarkable event of the year. It’s, of course, the weeklong trip of the UN 70 Belarus Express for SDGs around Belarus to bring UN and SDGs closer to people as well as giving the opportunity for people to talk to each other. 

In September, World Leaders committed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality & injustice. Fix climate change. Belarus was one among the 193 countries that made the promise to its citizens to achieve these goals by 2030.

During opening of the 8th Film Festival ‘Human Dignity, Equality and Justice’ at Pobeda cinema

Looking forward to the launch of SDGs and UNDAF 2016-2020 next year, UN country team came together to discuss how can it highlight the importance of inclusion in the achievement of these two key and ambitious plans for Belarus. Being convinced that only having each society member by its side country can realise its full potential and to draw attention to this issue, the UN in Belarus launched on 20th November (Universal Children’s Day) a month-long advocacy campaign #InclusiveBelarus SDGs 4 All to raise awareness about; fight fear and stigma against; and give hope and opportunity to those who feel excluded from the world they live in every day. The culmination of the campaign fell on Human Rights Day, which is celebrated annually on 10th December. On this day, bunch of very knowledgeable and serious people gathered to discuss ‘Universal Periodic Review Follow-up: Towards a Coordinated Approach’ that serves as a unique mechanism and represents an integrated and comprehensive overview of the situation with human rights in all countries of the world. Belarus passed its second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in May 2015 and during this conference, participants had a wonderful occasion to share views, best practices, challenges and lessons learnt on the establishment of a coordinated mechanism for UPR reporting and follow-up.

The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for the Republic of Belarus for 2016-2020 is the second joint strategy of the UN organisations acting in Belarus. The strategic areas for the new period include Responsive and Accountable Governance; Sustainable Economic Development; Environmental Protection and Sustainable Human Capital Development.

The 8th Film Festival ‘Human Dignity, Equality and Justice’ officially closed in Pobeda Cinema on the same day. It was wonderful to see full house during all 10 screenings focusing on various issues such as promotion and protection of human rights, combating hatred, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, and protecting vulnerable persons such as children, women, persons with disabilities and victims of AIDS. If you have not been able to see the films or just did not know about it for some reason, mark the December 2016 in your calendar to be there for the 9th Film Festival!

#InclusiveBelarus SDGs 4 All campaign concluded on 18th December — International Migrants Day. Evaluating the part of globalisation, together with advances in communications and transportation, the world’s community has come to an understanding that these factors has greatly increased the number of people who have the desire and the capacity to move to other places. This new era has created challenges and opportunities for societies throughout the world. On this day, all the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and UN staff in Belarus joined the Candlelight Vigil. By lighting a candle, we thought of the sacrifice made by migrants and the challenges they face every day.

Concluding, 2015 was undoubtedly a very important year for the world we live in. We celebrated 70 years since the end of the Second World War and creation of the United Nations; we had a chance to review the final progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and now, we pin our hopes on the brand new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and start of the new UNDAF 2016-2020 implementation next year. May the upcoming catholic Christmas end the present year on a cheerful note and make way for a fresh and bright New Year, or for further orthodox Christmas celebrations!

By Vladimir Mikhailovsky

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