UNESCO in Belarus

Cooperation between the Republic of Belarus and UNESCO

Belarus joined UNESCO in 1954.

Since that time Belarus has been taken an active part in UNESCO activities. The country was elected a member of the Executive Board four times, for the periods of 1989-1992, 2000-2001, 2002-2005, 2009-2013.

There were several visits of the UNESCO Director-General to the Republic of Belarus: in 1991 - Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow, in 1998 - Federico Mayor Zaragoza, in 2002 - Koichiro Matsuura. As a result of these visits Memoranda of cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Belarus and UNESCO were signed.

According to the Charter of UNESCO the National Commission for UNESCO has been created in Belarus. It consists of the heads of the Ministries of education, culture, information, sports and tourism, and the Academy of Sciences of Belarus, representatives of the Administration of the President and the Council of Ministers, rectors of leading higher education institutions, museum directors, heads of public organizations.

The National Commission implements its activity under the Regulations of the National Commission of the Republic of Belarus for UNESCO, approved by the Council of Ministers 17.09.1997 № 1231. According to this document the National Commission coordinates cooperation between Belarus and UNESCO.

Working body of the National Commission is the Secretariat, which implements its activity under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus.

Contact information:

Address: 19 Lenina street

220030 Minsk

Tel.: 375 17 327 33 53

E-mail: su@mfa.gov.by

Cooperation in the field of education

Education plays a major role in the development of human personality, in economic growth and in strengthening social ties. It is an important instrument in the fight against poverty. The UNESCO objective is to provide people with access to education: to provide free primary education, to meet the learning needs of young people and adults, to improve the quality of education, to promote experiments, innovation and experience exchange between different states.

UNESCO educational programs provide for educational institutions of Belarus direct and permanent access to the best methods and international experience. The UNITWIN/ UNESCO Chairs Programme and the project "UNESCO Associated Schools" also play important role in spreading good practices in the field of education.

UNESCO Chairs is the main part of the "World Plan of interuniversity cooperation and academic mobility", adopted at the 26th session of the UNESCO General Conference in 1991. Today the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs programme (http://www.unesco.org/en/unitwin/university-twinning-and-networking/) involves more than 800 UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN networks in 134 countries. The UNITWIN / UNESCO Chairs programme is one of the most fruitful initiatives of UNESCO, which is welcomed by the entire world university and scientific community today. UNESCO Chairs play an increasingly important role in sharing experience, knowledge and information on the whole range of issues related to higher education and the development of science, they provide universities and scientific institutions with entry into the current global system of multilateral interuniversity and scientific cooperation.

There are seven UNESCO Chairs in Belarus (http://www.pravo.by/unescochairs):

Chair for Environmental Science and Management at the International Sakharov Environmental University;

Chair for Human Rights and Democracy at the Belarusian State University;

Chair on energy conservation and renewable energy sources at the Belarusian National Technical University;

Chair in Information Technology and Law at the National Center of Legal Information;

Chair for science education with emphasis on the natural sciences at the Belarusian State University;

Chair in Culture of Peace and Democracy at the National Institute for Higher Education of the Belarusian State University;

Chair on peace and tolerance through languages ​​and Civic Education at Minsk State Linguistic University.

The UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) (http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/networks/global-networks/aspnet/) was initiated by UNESCO in 1953. Today it is one of the most successful and long-lasting projects of the Organization. It unites more than 9,000 institutions (preschool institutions, schools, teachers’ training colleges) in 180 countries.

11 educational institutions have the status of UNESCO Associated Schools in Belarus. National Coordinator of the UNESCO Associated Schools in the Republic of Belarus is Kazyuchits Alla Olegovna, the chief inspector of the general secondary education of the Ministry of Education (tel. 375 17 222 66 47, Fax: 375 17 200 84 83, e-mail: kazutchits@minedu.unibel.by).

Cooperation in the field of science

UNESCO contributes to promotion of knowledge, builds collaborative networks of scientists, conducts researches in the field of social, human and natural sciences, develops the standards for intellectual cooperation, ensures the implementation of the international conventions.

Participation of Belarusian scientists in UNESCO programmes and activities provides the possibility to obtain expert assistance in the implementation of research projects. It is a means of increasing participation in the international scientific cooperation and the exchange of scientific information, of bringing intellectual and material and technical capacity of other countries, of gaining access to the results and methods of the up-to-date scientific research.

In the field of natural science Belarus is an active participant of the UNESCO programme "Man and Biosphere" (MAB) (http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/ ecological-sciences/man-and-biosphere-programme/) since its creation in 1971. In 1983 the first International Congress on Biosphere Reserves was held in Minsk.

Under the programme a network of biosphere reserves was created throughout the world, which covers all the world's major ecosystems. Each of the reserves consists of at least one of the protected areas and the adjacent buffer zone and the zone of cooperation. In general, the World Network includes 610 biosphere reserves in 117 countries.

Biosphere reserves are the areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems, which have received international recognition under the UNESCO Programme "Man and Biosphere" (MAB). They are to promote and to serve as an example of optimal relationship between man and nature.

Belarus has currently been elected for the period 2011-2015 into the International Coordinating Council of the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme. The task of this council is to assess the activities of biosphere reserves and to decide on their inclusion into the World Network.

MAB National Committee has been established and successfully operates in Belarus. It coordinates the activity of the three Belarusian Biosphere Reserves, which have been introduced in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves:

·       Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve (http://berezinsky.by/content/ru/index.html);

·       Belavezhskaya Pushcha  (http://www.npbp.brest.by/);

·       West Polesie Transboundary Biosphere Reserve (http://brpp.by/other/west-polesie.html).

There are other institutions that implement their activity under UNESCO: the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the International Hydrological Programme (IHP).

In the field of human and social sciences the Republic of Belarus takes an active part in UNESCO Bioethics Programme, created in 1993. Under the Program international conferences and seminars are organized and international legal instruments in the field of bioethics are elaborated.

In 2006 the National Bioethics Committee was established in Belarus at the Ministry of Health.

Not only biology and medicine should comply with ethical principles. All the science in general shouldn’t contradict moral standards. In 1998 on the UNESCO initiative the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) was established. COMEST advises the Director-General of UNESCO on topical ethical issues in various sectors of scientific and technological activities (environmental ethics, climate change ethics, the ethics of nanotechnology, etc.). Special emphasis is being placed on the need for proper teaching of ethics disciplines.

Philosophy has a special place among the social sciences and humanities. This approach of UNESCO, caused by the unquestioned authority of philosophy in shaping critical thinking and pluralism, is shared in Belarus. In our country annual international philosophical conference are held in honor of World Philosophy Day, which is celebrated on November 15.

Under the programme "Management of Social Transformations" (MOST) UNESCO has created the database and network to monitor processes undergoing in the countries, where deep social transformations are taking place.

UNESCO is involved in international efforts to combat doping in sport, mainly through the implementation of the International Convention against Doping in Sport. UNESCO has elaborated the Convention to let all the governments work together and use the force of international law in countering doping. The convention provides the framework for harmonizing anti-doping rules and policies around the world to support the World Anti-doping Code. Since its entering into force 173 states joined the UNESCO Convention against Doping in Sport (February 1, 2007). Belarus is a party to the Convention since February, 2009.

Cooperation in the field of culture

UNESCO has always been at the forefront of international initiatives in the field of heritage protection. Adopted in 1972, the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is based on the fact that some objects of cultural or natural heritage are of great interest to the world community and therefore they should be considered as a part of the world humanity heritage. With respect to the sovereignty of the States on whose territory the cultural and natural heritage is situated, and without infringement upon property rights provided by national law towards heritage, the States Parties to the Convention recognize that the protection of world heritage is the responsibility of the world community as a whole. Nowadays the World Heritage List includes 962 cultural and natural sites, located in 157 States Parties.

In Belarus there are four sites inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/):

• Bialowieza Forest (http://www.npbp.brest.by/) with Poland;

• Mir Castle (www.mirzamak.by/);

• Nesvizh palace and park complex (http://niasvizh.by/);

• Arc Struve (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1187), which passes through nine other European countries.

A number of Belarusian sites have been included in the Tentative list of objects (http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/state=by) and can obtain the status of World Heritage Site in future.

UNESCO provides support to Member States in the preservation and promotion of intangible cultural heritage, making an emphasis on strengthening the public consciousness on the need to preserve this heritage and pass it to future generations. In 2003 UNESCO adopted the Convention on the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage. 151 States have already joined it.

In 2006 the Republic of Belarus was among the first ten countries that ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Today our country is preparing a national inventory of intangible cultural heritage. With the support of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund information resource dedicated to the intangible cultural heritage of Belarus (http://www.livingheritage.by/) is being worked out.

One of the intangible cultural heritage elements of Belarus, a Christmas ritual of Semezhevo village, Minsk district, "Kalyady Tsars", is included in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. This element serves as an example in developing a complex of measures for safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in our country.

Belarus is also a party to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and the Second Protocol to the Convention.