UN makes unprecedented decision on Belarus
On 21 October 2021, in Geneva the countries participating in the Aarhus Convention of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe adopted a decision on Belarus that recognized the de-registration of the environmental organization Ecohome as a case of persecution and oppression of NGOs.
The decision does not only recognize the de-registration 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 renew the registration of Ecohome by 1 December 2021. The regime was also obliged to formulate an action plan to inform the population of Lithuania about the operation of the new Belarusian nuclear plant (BelNPP) by 1 July 2022. The suspension will take effect on 1 February 2022.
This is the first time in the history of the Convention when all options to reach a consensus have been exhausted and the parties have been forced to resort to a decision by voting. Thirty-four out of 39 countries supported this decision and called on Belarus to cancel the decision to de-register Ecohome.
If the conditions of the adopted decision are not met, the Lukashenko regime will be excluded from the list of recipients of international financial aid for environmental projects.
Ecohome is an organization that has actively opposed the construction of the BelNPP and fought against the construction of a plant that produces batteries in Brest. Ecohome was liquidated by the court on 31 August 2021 as part of a mass crackdown on NGOs, when more than 200 non-profit organizations were de-registered. This is the first time in the history of the Convention when one of the contacts of the Committee was dismantled by the authorities.