Human Rights in Belarus

New Publication on Human Rights and Gender Equality in Quality Human Rights Teaching

RWI has prepared a publication that consists of a compilation of abstracts on inclusion of human rights and gender equality aspects in the teaching of various legal disciplines in Belarus, Serbia, and the United States.

The publication is available in Russian and English.The abstracts were submitted by participants of an international educational and methodological seminar organised by RWI and held at the Faculty of Law of the Belarus State Economic University (BSEU)  in October 2015.

The publication consists work of the teachers from Belarus, Serbia, Sweden and the United States.

“The draft plan of action for the second phase (2010-2014) of the UN’s World Programme for Human Rights Education foresees that one of the elements necessary for achieving quality human rights teaching and learning is  to develop strategies for infusing human rights as a cross-cutting issue into all higher education disciplines, including law,” says Olga Bezbozhna, Programme Officer at RWI.

The seminar

Following this rationale, in 2014, RWI’s senior researcher Dr Radu Mares developed the Guidelines on mainstreaming human rights into seven selected legal courses at the BSEU in English, which were translated to Russian .

In 2015, this work has been expanded into a seminar in Minsk, where 42 teachers from more than 8 universities in Belarus shared their input on how to mainstream human rights and gender equality in more than 30 legal disciplines, including Labor law, Criminal Law, Family Law, and Legal Ethics.

We sat down with some of the teachers whose work appears in the publication to ask them a few questions about their approach.

irinaShakhnovskaya Irina, assistant of the department of theory and history of state and law, Polotsk State University

Tell us about your presentation and what problem you address?

Within the discipline of Constitutional Law of the Republic of Belarus and Constitutional Law of Foreign Countries, I analyse the involvement of new subjects in the constitutional process, such as sexual minorities.

Why is this important to you and to Belarus?

In the Republic of Belarus the issue of limiting the constitutional rights of sexual minorities is quite relevant. The problem lays not within the legal regulations, but rather in legal practice, in the impossibility of the realization of sexual minorities’ rights in civil society. The reasons for this situation are interesting for scientific research.

What further steps do you, as a researcher and teacher, foresee to address this problem?

Currently, the Belarusian society is “not ready” to take such subjects in. One of the main reasons is the established constitutional values. At the same time, it is a necessity to introduce students to modern realities (primarily Western European). Perhaps this can be done through writing term papers, preparing additional reports and presentations and assesing enforcement practices involving these subjects in the Republic of Belarus.

twobelarFilipchanka Yauheni, Dr Beliakova Katsiaryna , teachers at Vitebsk State University, which is named after P.M. Masherov 

Tell us about your presentation and what problem you address?

Our presentation was devoted to the problems of access to free legal aid for vulnerable people (that is provided by legal clinics) and how to prepare socially responsible lawyers using clinical methods at law faculties.

Why is this important to you and to Belarus?

First of all we should take into account the necessity of professional philosophy and ethics as well as practical skills for future lawyers. From the other side we have the lack of free legal services in our country. So legal clinical education helps us to solve particularly these problems.

What further steps do you, as a researcher and teacher, foresee to address this problem?

We want to prepare research about the use of clinical legal methodology for teaching students who plan to work with socially unprotected people in the future (disabled, imprisoned, etc.).

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute has an academic cooperation with academic institutions in Belarus to increase their capacity to give the best possible education in human rights and to increase their capacity to do high quality research and outreach activities.

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