Appeal of the RADA on the development of the law ”About volunteer activities” in Belarus
We, the Union of Twenty-Seven Democratic Youth Organizations of Belarus, created to consolidate Belarusian youth civil society organizations to represent, promote and protect common interests, exercise the right to freedom of association, and other constitutional rights represented by the governing body, the Board of “RADA”, to the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Belarus and the Ministry of Justice with the following appeal:
We, representatives of youth and youth organizations, who are actively involved in volunteering both in the organization of volunteer activities and the development of the volunteer movement within the activities of their organizations, and personal volunteer experience and participation, express both interest in and concern for the current process of development activities in Belarus.
We support the desire of government agencies to create favorable conditions for the development of the volunteer movement in Belarus. We are very interested in volunteering being officially recognized, and volunteering experience playing a bigger role and having more weight in society, so that more young people get volunteering experience both in Belarus and abroad. We are confident that the development of the volunteer movement will bring more opportunities, benefits and fruits for the personal development of current and future youth of Belarus.
At the same time, we must note that the creation of this law to improve the conditions for volunteering cannot take place without the direct participation of all stakeholders, especially youth organizations, whose work is highly dependent on the participation of volunteers and where the values of volunteering are central.
At the same time, we note that thanks to our constant work and our contacts outside the country, we have the opportunity to involve international experts who have already assisted in the development of similar laws in other countries.
But at the moment we see that the development of the law is without the possibility of full use and inclusion of interested in the development of volunteer groups in society in the process. We see that the Ministry of Justice has created the following opportunities for expressing proposals: correspondence by mail, commenting on a special topic on the forum and in the accounts of the Ministry of Justice in social networks. It should be noted that the proposals sent in this way are not subject to consideration in the manner prescribed by the Law of the Republic of Belarus of July 18, 2011 № 300-C “On appeals of citizens and legal entities.” And we are confident that this mechanism does not create a full-fledged environment for the participation of stakeholder groups and does not provide opportunities for dialogue, discussion and consideration of views and approaches to the topic of volunteering. This is evidenced by the lack of a prescribed mechanism for working with proposals from the Ministry of Justice.
Another important point is the development and activities of volunteer groups in recent months in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. The experience of organizing and working these volunteer groups, as well as their interaction with government agencies, business and the public sector requires study and cannot be done in the near future without compromising quality. In our opinion, if we do not analyze this situation during the development of the law, the law will lose its relevance and quality, which will lead to the need to change it.
Thus, we note that the process of drafting the law does not use the full potential of public organizations and volunteers, and does not take into account current and current processes in public life, which have a great impact on volunteering and call on the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ministry of Justice of Belarus. all those responsible for drafting the law “On volunteering”:
- Postpone the drafting of the law for at least 1 year, given the ongoing volunteer activity, in order to organize real public participation in this process;
- By the end of 2020, assess the environment for the development of the volunteer movement in Belarus according to the UN methodology with the involvement of specialized research organizations;
- Assess the appropriateness of the law or decide on the need to regulate certain issues related to volunteering in other regulations without the law;
- In the near future to officially publish (make available to the public) the short concept created by the Prosecutor General’s Office, on the basis of which the law is being developed;
- If, after conducting the necessary research, it is decided to continue drafting the law, please set up a working group with experts and representatives of organizations that have a meaningful position on volunteering, take into account the participation of youth organizations in the development of State Youth Policy 2030;
- Involve representatives of the volunteer movement, public sector organizations, especially youth, in the drafting process by setting up an open working group based on the Ministry of Justice and disseminating the invitation to join through the media;
- Include RADA representatives in the working group.
11.05.2020, Minsk Dzmitry Herylovich, Chairperson of the RADA