Aarhus Convention: the liquidation of Ecohome is recognized as persecution and harassment of NGO

Photo: ecohome-ngo.by
4 mins

На русском языке: Орхусская конвенция: ликвидация «Экодома» признана преследованием и притеснением НГО
На беларускай мове: Орхуская канвенцыя: ліквідацыя «Экадома» прызнана пераследам і прыгнётам НДА

Yesterday, on October 21, at the Seventh Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention in Geneva, a Decision on Belarus was adopted, which recognized the liquidation of the Ecohome public association as a case of persecution and harassment of NGO, – this is stated on the organization’s website. It is noted that this is the first case in the 20-year history of the Convention, when all attempts to reach a consensus were exhausted and the parties were forced to resort to making a decision by voting.

Aarhus Convention: the liquidation of Ecohome is recognized as persecution and harassment of NGO

Lawyer Sergey Magonov and Marina Dubina, the Director of Ecohome / Photo: ecohome-ngo.by

Ecohome specialists note that the decision not only recognizes the liquidation of the organization as a violation of the Convention, but also provides for the suspension of the rights and privileges of Belarus under the Convention if the country does not take steps to restore the registration of Ecohome by December 1, 2021. The suspension will take effect on February 1, 2022.

39 countries took part in the voting. «For» the cancellation of the decision on liquidation of the organization voted 27 EU countries, Georgia, Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia, Great Britain. «Against» – Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. Moldova abstained.

«Making a decision on Belarus with important conclusions and recommendations really shows a commitment to the spirit of environmental democracy. And this is certainly important, both for individuals and organizations, and for promoting the principles of the convention itself. So we recognize that the fate of persons who exercise environmental rights is extremely important and the convention contributes to their protection», – the organization’s website quotes Marina Dubina, the director of Ecohome.

Media expert Serge Kharytonau in his Telegram channel reacted to this news and made several important remarks.

  • Thus, our country is excluded from the list of recipients of international assistance for financing projects in the field of ecology. In addition, Belarus «was obliged to form by July 1, 2022, an action plan to inform the population of Lithuania about the work of the Belarusian NPP. Today’s decision of the countries participating in the Convention can become a catalyst for further expansion of the sanctions regime against the Minsk junta. This time – for systemic violations in the field of access of citizens of Belarus and the EU to environmental justice».
  • The decision casts doubt on the further participation of Belarus in all other environmental agreements. Belarus is currently a party to some 20 environmental conventions. The vote is likely to raise the issue of Belarus’ further access to nuclear technologies (BelNPP) to the international level.
  • In Belarus, international environmental projects are huge budgets. The most notorious scandal with money for the environment happened in 2015 with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), when journalist Andrei Borodin found out that EU money in the contest of «green» initiatives was received by «environmental organizations» that environmentalists and experts had never heard of.
  • Tatyana Kononchuk, who previously dealt with the topic of ecology in the House of Representatives, and now in the Ministry of Natural Resources, said from a high rostrum that Belarusian NGOs, and in particular, Ecohome, liquidated themselves in order to attract attention and additional funding. But at the same time, Kanonchuk and her colleagues oppose independent environmental organizations – and at the same time hold forums in Belarus about the importance of cooperation with civil society.

Ecohome is one of the oldest non-profit environmental organizations in Belarus, founded in 1996 to promote an environmentally friendly lifestyle and the ideas of sustainable development.

The Aarhus Convention is the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. The purpose of the Convention is to support the protection of human rights to a favourable environment for their health and well-being, to access to information, to public participation in decision-making and to access to justice in environmental matters. The Convention for Belarus entered into force on 30.10.2001.

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