Belarusian Journal of International Law and International Relations 2001 — N 2


International Law

Human Rights

Towards the Formation of the Right to Multiple Nationality — Alexey Grigoriev

Refugee Law

The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees — Yuri Sarashevsky

Information Provision for Refugees in the Republic of Belarus: Problems and Prospects — Larissa Vassilieva

International Private Law

The Principles of International Private Law — Olga Tolochko

The Evolution of Consumers' Rights Protection: a Global and National Experience — Tamara Keita-Stankevich

Theoretical Issues

Minority Definition Criteria — Natalia Katko


The Present-day Understanding of Human Rights Law (Review of the book "Understanding Human Rights")  — Inessa Brodko, Nina Kvasovets

International Relations

The Union of Russia and Belarus: Problems and Prospects in the Light of Globalisation  — Alexandr Sharapo

The Relations Between Belarus and Russia at the Turn of the Century (the end of 1999—the beginning of 2001) — Vladimir Snapkovsky

The USA and the ABM Issue — Anatoly Rozanov

The FRG and the Problems of European Integration at the End of the 90s — Ludmila Khukhlyndina, Vladislav Froltsov

Belarus in UNESCO: the Effectiveness of Cooperation — Dmitry Krivoshey

The Policy of Belarus in Regard to the Foreign Compatriots — Vladimir Basik

The Problems of the Generality of Human Rights in World Policy — Yulianna Malevich

Refugees — the Global Problem of the XXI Century — Yuri Morgun

International Economic Relations

Prospects of Development of International Transportation of Goods on the Postsoviet Territory — Yuri Septilko


English Summaries

"Towards the Formation of the Right to Multiple Nationality" (Alexey Grigoriev)

The article is devoted to considering and grounding the right to multiple nationality.

In the author’s opinion the right to multiple nationality is one of the oldest rights, which nevertheless remains one of the least researched in international law. The right to multiple nationality belongs not only to individuals, but to communities, which can be citizens (or members) of another community (receiving state) that can recognize a person or group as part of the community, exercising the rights and obligations of citizenship. The state of multiple nationality differs from the right to it. Depending on the attitude of individual persons, their groups (communities) and the receiving states to multiple nationality and its issues, the attitude to the right to multiple nationality varies.

The right to double nationality (bipatrism) has travelled a long cyclical way from individual recognition as an exception from the general rule on nationality in ancient times to the emergency of a customary norm of law, which later is transformed into the treaty obligations of international law. The right to multiple nationality has not yet become a completely formed right, it is still in the process of development. Multiple nationality and the right to it are not good or evil as some people think, with the acute controversy going on among academics, politicians and general public. This right stems from the principle of sovereign equality of states. Like any other right it can be used for the good or for the evil by different forces. But this is hardly the ground for its elimination or uncontrolled development.

The article demonstrates that both the theory and practice nowadays do not leave a possibility to eliminate the state of multiple nationality without damaging democracy or global security. The attempts of various states to restrict multiple nationality have not been a success and are not likely to be effective in the near future. Moreover, the concept of double nationality, which has not stood out in legal theory before, has been gathering momentum recently; the concept envisaging differentiation depending on specifics.

A more thorough and complete study of the state of multiple nationality and its further use in the practice of granting citizenship to individuals and groups is required for a more efficient and secure development of this right. Elaboration of the problems and the methods and specific ways of settling them is also necessary. Without doubt, the international law experience must play a significant part here. A civilized, high-grade solution of the issue of the right to multiple nationality is bound to contribute greatly to international law development.

"The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees" (Yuri Sarashevsky)

The article in an all-round historical, political and legal analysis of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The author makes an attempt to explore the main stages of formation of the international refugee protection system, the activities of a number of specialized international bodies on refugee affairs: UNRRA, IRO, UNCHR. Besides, the article characterizes the main elements of the 1951 Convention: provisions determining the definition of the refugee, provisions defining the legal status of the refugee and provisions connected with the implementation of the Convention.

In the conclusion the author considers the process of application and transformation of the Convention in the legislation of different countries and makes statements on the validity and application limits of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The author notes here that states try to narrow down even that statistically negligible category of population, which is seeking refuge and falls under the traditional legal regime for refugees.

"Information Provision for Refugees in the Republic of Belarus: Problems and Prospects" (Larissa Vassilieva)

The article explores the issues of information provision of state bodies activity in the realm of migration.

In the author’s opinion, information provision of population migration in the Republic of Belarus is a scientifically grounded legal activity of the subjects concerned in collecting, fixing processing, accumulating, storing and use of all kinds of data in order to implement the state’s migration policy.

In accordance with the State Programme on Migration in the Republic of Belarus for the 1998—2000 the Ministry of Labour has completed developing the concept of establishing a computerized system on migration issues.

However, despite the fact that the internal affairs bodies have information militia systems set up, they do not contain data on refugees. The author proposes to establish a separate form of organizing this kind of information: an electronic card with a certain set of requisites. The domain "Persons" has to be expanded, including a new registration category "Refugee persons".

"The Principles of International Private Law" (Olga Tolochko)

The present paper explores the principles of international private law. The lack of precise definitions of the said principles adversely affects the development of international law as a science. Likewise, it has a negative effect on legislative and law enforcement practice. The author objects to the mechanical extension of international public law principles to cover international private law, considering that the latter field of law has its own guiding principles. The study produced a special system of principles which, according to the author, underlie the regulation of private law relations with an international aspect. These principles reflect the main doctrinal and legislative provisions in the sphere of international private law and can serve as a starting point for further study on fundamental issues of international private law.

"The Evolution of Consumers' Rights Protection: a Global and National Experience" (Tamara Keita-Stankevich)

Consumerism protection is a modern notion that has deep historic roots. Its content echoes back through millenia. The Old Testament says in the Third Book Leviticus "Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights" (Leviticus 19:35)

The evolution of protection of consumers' rights started in the USA. The first form of consumers' protest was fixed in Massachusets state in 1975. The sellers of the spoiled food were sentenced to pillory.

In his 1961 message to the Congress, John Kennedy became the first head of the state, who appealed for the defence of the consumers' rights. However, his appeal was not treated by the Congress with respect. On March 15, 1962 John Kennedy appealed for the second time to both the Congress and public organizations to recognize four basic rights of the consumer: a right to safety of goods and services, a right to information, a right to a choice of goods and services on competitive basis, a right to be heard out. These rights were recognized and adopted with two aditional rights: a right to effective compensation and a right to education. The consumers' rights claimed by J. Kennedy have become fundamental; today the governments worldwide are oriented at their protection.

In 1973 the European Union at its 25th Session of the Consultative Assembly adopted the Charter of Consumers' Rights Protection. On April 9, 1985 the UN General Assembly adopted the Guiding Principles for the protection of the consumers' interests (the UN Resolution No. 39/248). The UN fixes as fundamental consumers' rights the following: a right to protection from damage to health, a right to safety, a right to protection of their interests, a right to information, consumers' education, a right to clean environment, a right to express the consumers' interests. The Republic of Belarus as a full member of the world community joined the UN Decision, having signed the abovementioned Resolution.

"The Guiding Principles" imply a system of the state protection of consumers' interests at the national level on the one hand, and a right to independent public protection of these interests by the consumers' organizations on the other. One of the first results of realization of the "Guiding Principles" was the foundation of the Belarusian Society of Consumers' Rights protection (BSCP) in 1989, representing national non-governmental movement of consumers in Belarus. An important contribution to the emergence and development of national non-governmental consumers movement was made by adoption on the BSCP's initiative of the Law of the Republic of Belarus "On protection of consumers' rights" which came into force from January 1, 1994. The Law in its article 4 defined basic consumers' rights: a right to protection of their interests by the state, a right to the appropriate quality of goods, a right to the safety of goods, a right to obtain full and correct information on goods, a right to compensation in full of the damage incurred by the goods of inappropriate quality, a right to judicial recourse, a right to the protection of the violated rights and interests protected by the Law, a right to creation of public consumers organizations etc.

However, it is not the first Law aimed at consumers protection on the territory of Belarus. The outstanding monument of the feudal law — the 1588 Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that was the acting law on the territory of Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine for 250 years — states not only the constitutional, administrative, matrimonial, civil, criminal norms but also the norms, protecting the rights of the GDL citizens (feudals, szlachta, petty bourgeois, peasants, artisans,

"Minority Definition Criteria" (Natalia Katko)

The article considers the indicators used to determine whether any population group can be treated as a minority. The development of the definition of the minority is a greatly topical issue. At present, international law lacks the universally recognized definition of the minority. In this connection, determining of the main criteria could assist in defining a certain population group as a minority, and, consequently, whether it is subject to international protection, which would contribute to the solution of a number of critical issues related to minorities.

Such criteria are: a quantitative one, a non-predominance criterion, possession of the citizenship of the state of residence, possession of stable ethnic, religions, linguistic and cultural characteristics; manifestation of an identity or "individual treatment".

However, it should be stated that not every of the abovementioned criteria are absolute and, what is most important to stress, the absolutization of any minority definition will not lead to any universal definition.

The investigation of criteria in the article lays foundation for the definition of the minority that could become a model of the concept of the minority: it is a population group within a state which is less numerous, compared to the main population group, and/or having non-predominant status, displaying stable ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural characteristics and willing to preserve its identity. Meanwhile, it is expedient to apply the minority concept both to ethnic and religious, linguistic and cultural minorities uniting them under the single term "a minority".

"The Present-day Understanding of Human Rights Law" (Review of the book "Understanding Human Rights") (Inessa Brodko, Nina Kvasovets)

The book is  the result of the legal workshop held at the Institute  of Advanced Legal Studies in London in July 1994 and all the chapters  in this volume are revised versions of the papers delivered there. The book is a collection of legal essays and all their authors are lawyers, whose primary goal was seeking an understanding of the relationship between the law and human rights.  Human rights being one of the most interdisciplinary fields of study, are viewed in the book from philosophical, anthropological, political, historical and even rhetorical perspectives, while the aspects of the law relating to human rights have been of primary concern of the authors.  The book is not so much about "defending", "vindicating" or "guaranteeing" human rights as it is about understanding what this deceptively simple phrase means. The tone of this book is rather optimistic as human rights language has a considerable potential to achieve justice and fairness, thus being an agent of change on behalf of the poor, the marginalized and the dispossessed, "those many people whose human rights are continuously mocked by their inhuman daily predicaments".

"The Union of Russia and Belarus: Problems and Prospects in the Light of Globalisation" (Alexandr Sharapo)

The article gives a brief analysis of integrational and desintegrational processes in the CIS in the 1990s. In particular, it treats the issue of the reapproachment rate in the Belarusian-Russian relations slowing down, its reasons and possible consequences. A special place in given to the problem of globalisation, specifically, as it regards the issue of building the Union State of Belarus and Russia, the apprehensions for the economy of our country connected with this process and the measures to prevent negative consequences.

"The Relations Between Belarus and Russia at the Turn of the Century (the end of 1999—the beginning of 2001)" (Vladimir Snapkovsky)

The paper considers the key moments in the development of the relations between Belarus and Russia at the end of 1999, the beginning of 2001. Priority is given to three most significant events in their bilateral relations: signing the Treaty on Creation of the Union State (December 1999); V. Putin coming to power in the Kremlin and the start of a new Russian policy regarding Belarus and its president A. Lukashenko; concluding agreements on introduction of a single monetary unit on the territory of the Union State (November 2000). The article analyses the response of the public and political community (including the opposition) in Belarus and Russia to the integration process. It is stated that a new period in the history of the relations of the two post-Soviet states has begun.

"The USA and the ABM Issue" (Anatoly Rozanov)

The article analyses the evolution of the US approach to the ABMT over the last decades. Special attention is given to the arguments of the supporters and the opponents of deployment of the ABM defence system in the US and to the assessment of the differences in the treatment of this problem by the USA and their European NATO allies. The article shows that the claim of George W. Bush’s administration for the conceptual innovations in grounding the new deterrent strategy variant based on defensive weapons does not stand up under scrutiny. A conclusion is drawn that the establishment of the ABM territorial system could undermine strategic stability and adversely affect the relations between the US and Russia.

"The FRG and the Problems of European Integration at the End of the 90s" (Ludmila Khukhlyndina, Vladislav Froltsov)

The article is devoted to the problem of the definition of the role of the FRG in the process of modern European integration. The scientific validity of this issue is determined by the activization of the foreign policy of united Germany in the sphere of formation of the single European political space in the late nineties.

"Belarus in UNESCO: the Effectiveness of Cooperation" (Dmitry Krivoshey)

The history of our country’s participation in UNESCO activities goes back to May 12, 1954. But the actual character of the relations between Belarus and this organisation took shape only in the 1990’s, when our country was able to pursue a completely independent foreign policy in the conditions of sovereignty. Priority in this period was given to such spheres of collaboration as education, culture and ecology.

Cooperation in the field of education was aimed at assisting the reform in the systems of secondary and higher education. To implement the reform the country took fruitful efforts in introducing new educational technologies, developingnew textbooks and manuals, sharing knowledge and experience, establishing UNESCO chairs and participating in the international lawmaking.

Belarus has been actively working within the framework of the set of programmes "Science" at the programme "Man and Biosphere" (MAB) which aims at preserving biological diversity. The Belarusian National MAB Committee has been successful in this respect. The UNESCO experts consider it one of the most actively working on the earth.

1996 saw Belarus joining self-financed extrabudgetary project "Chemistry for Life". The Organisation supported within its framework our country’s proposal on the establishment of a Centre of chemical education in the republic. Belarusian academics take part in international cooperation with the UNESCO, mainly in various fields of natural sciences and in the implementation of the programme on social sciences (MOST).

In the period from 1993 to 1997 Belarus was a member of the intergovernmental council of the UNESCO international programme on information which allowed to draw the attention of the Organisation to the problems connected with introducing computers in education, creating computer networks inside the country, linking up to international networks; it also permitted participation in creating Regional information network for the Eastern European countries.

Belarusian cooperation with the UNESCO in the realm of culture strikes by its diversity. The republic is a member-state of all UNESCO conventions in this realm, which gives it the right to take part in all events, covered by these conventions.

Thus, the Republic of Belarus took part in UNESCO events commemorating the centenary of the cinema. The work under the programmes "Development of Central and Eastern European Countries", Memoria Mundi, the History of Book Culture of Podlyasye, Communication and Information continued.

Belarus was an active participant of the events held by the UN within the framework of the "Culture Development Decade" (1988—1997).

As a member state it received various assistance in developing the projects to preserve national heritage under the programme "Culture Development: Heritage and Creativity", in restoration work and human resource development, in training and upgrading the skills of art workers and encouraging artistic development in young people.

It was the collaboration within the framework of the programme "UNESCO — Chernobyl" that has been most significant for our country. Under this programme a number of projects was implemented in 1991—1998 with provision of rendering various assistance in preserving and enhancing our country’s culture.

On gaining independence Belarus was able for the first time to submit its own proposals, which permitted it to draw resources from the UN regular budget. Beginning with 1993 different applications of our country to realise culture programmes have been financed, among them: preparation and publication of the lexical atlas of Belarusian dialects, holding the international scientific conference "Slavonic Cultures after World War II", the study of Belarusian national dress and ornamentation in the Chernobyl area, acquisition of materials for the restoration of the Mir Castle, creating computer catalogue database at the National Library and others.

Mass support for the UNESCO activities is achieved in our country through the work of the Belarusian association of the UNESCO Clubs. This public organisation had a membership of 10000 in 1999 and worked in 3 regions, including 52 clubs from the associated UNESCO educational institutions. At present the Association is implementing 14 projects and programmes. In 1997 over 36 000 people took part in the events and actions of the Association in Belarus.

1991 and 1998 saw the official visits to our country on the invitation of the Government of the Director-general of UNESCO Federico Mayor.

However, cooperation with UNESCO met certain obstacles. The organisation received very little information on Belarus, the UNESCO publications were only slightly used to promote the image of Belarus through articles on science, culture and education in our country. Advantage was not taken of the possibility to publish monographs of Belarusian authors in the UNESCO publishing house. On the other hand, there was very little information on UNESCO in Belarusian mass media. There were also certain obstacles connected with the arrears of our country to this Organisation which Belarus pledged to repay in 1995.

At the XXX General Conference of UNESCO, which took place in autumn 1999, Belarus was elected to the Executive Board of this Organisation.

Thus, in the conditions of sovereignty our country managed to lay down and build up the foundations of “the Belarusian School” of cooperation with UNESCO. Belarus got the possibility to take an independent part in the most important international programmes of UNESCO which laid the groundwork for fostering the international presence in the world cultural space, establishing diverse cooperation with the developed countries within the framework of multilateral relations.

"The Policy of Belarus in Regard to the Foreign Compatriots" (Vladimir Basik)

The notions "diaspora" and "ethnic minority" partly coincide. The minority rights are guaranteed by major international instruments. However, every state is interested in cooperation with its national diaspora. In the early nineties the Republic of Belarus displayed its readiness to promote and protect the foreign compatriots’ interests within the framework of the international law standards, having adopted the state programme "The Belarusians in the World" and having signed bilateral treaties.

The paper points out the importance of cooperation with other states aimed at the protection of compatriots abroad.

"The Problems of the Generality of Human Rights in World Policy" (Yulianna Malevich)

The article touches upon the problems of achieving international consensus on human rights. For the first time in Belarusian literature the term of "an overlapping consensus" on rights is introduced and discussed. The article goes on to treat in detail the problem of achieving the given consensus by every traditional culture: Christianity (the Atlantist civilization), Islam, Confucianism and Buddhism (the Pacific Rim civilization). Each of them has its own philosophy in the realm of human rights. The article pays significant attention to the discussion of the issue whether legal culture can replace a general civilizational value in the concept of human rights. The article also discusses the features of alternative approaches to human rights protection in the effort to achieve an overlapping consensus on rights.

The author concludes with the opinion, that to achieve an overlapping consensus on rights all positive aspects of cultural, philosophical and civilizational norms existing in the East and in the West have to be taken into consideration. Besides, important differences between civilizations ought to be bridged over through lengthy and thorough negotiation process. This failing to take place, the result will be absolute rejection of values of various cultures, philosophies and religions.

"Refugees — the Global Problem of the XXI Century" (Yuri Morgun)

The article is dedicated to the World Refugee Day established for the first time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the Republic of Belarus joining the Convention in May 2000.

The article briefly elucidates and analyzes one of the global problems facing mankind in the XXI century — the problem of refugees. A brief account of main episodes on the history of refugees in presented from ancient times till our days. The international community is shown to realize after World War II the necessity of adoption of concerted effort directed at the solution of the refugee problem and to take such measures. It was the League of Nations that lay down the foundation of "the edifice" of international protection for refugees. The famous Norwegian explorer of the Pole Fridtjof Nansen was appointed by the League to be its first High Commissioner on Refugees. Displaying marvels of organisation and humanity, Nansen managed to achieve outstanding success in international protection of refugees under incredibly hard conditions. His work was crowned by the Nobel Peace Prize. Nansen exerted exceptional influence on subsequent international efforts in protecting refugees’ interests. After Nansen’s death in 1930 his work was carried on by Nansen International Office. The League of Nations adopted and confirmed by a number of international agreements a model for international actions to protect refugees.

After World War II international efforts to protect refugees were implemented through the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (UNRRA, 1943—1947) and the International Refugee Organisation (IRO, 1947—1952). By the early 50s the international community was  beginning to realize that the refugee problem was not merely a temporary  post-war issue. "The Cold War", ever new crises and wars engendered new flows of refugees. The necessity of establishing a strong, permanent, all-purpose International Agency on refugees was becoming increasingly evident.

After lengthy and sharp consultations and discussions in December 1949 the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution to establish the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The article gives a brief presentation of international legal foundations of the UNHCR’s activity — the Statute, the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees and throws light on the genuinely titanic humanitarian activity of the UNHCR over five decades of refugee work. During this time it has given real help to over 50 million refugees and other people in refugee-like situations. The UNHCR staff members actively operated practically in all crisis areas of the planet in the most dangerous situations and during the most acute crises connected with mass displacement of refugees. Many of them died, some were lost without trace while performing their duty. The UNHCR was twice honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for its long distinguished and successful service in protection of some of the most deprived people on earth — refugees. The article concludes with the quotation of the words of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Mr. Ruud Lubbers: "Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is to get serious about tackling the root causes of refugee crises and finding durable solutions for them… But if we want to reduce the number of refugees worldwide, we have to address the problems that drive them into exile in the first place".

"Prospects of Development of International Transportation of Goods on the Postsoviet Territory" (Yuri Septilko)

The economic recession in the countries of the former USSR since the early 90s caused reduction in the volume of international transportation. At the same time, the economic recession and disintegration of the cooperative relations was concurrent with the liberalization of international relations, privatization of transport companies, reorientation of transport economic connections and redistribution of international market of transportation services. International transportation has become a stabilizing factor for economies in transition on the post-soviet territory.

Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic States aim to implement a number of projects of transport corridors development with the funds provided by international financial organizations. The orientation of these states at joining the EU determined the approach, according to which the decisive factor for development of international transportation lies in strengthening of their positions within the European transportation system, and this requires bringing the national infrastructure into accordance with the international technical standards and uniformity of the appropriate economic and legislative norms for integration into the European network.

The favourable geographical position of Belarus on the crossroads of the North-South and East-West trade routes contributes to its development as a transit state. In recent years Belarusian international carriers have achieved significant success.

The necessary condition from the increase of transit and export/import transportation is the perfection of the technical level of infrastructure of transport international corridors passing through the territory of the country. The solution of this problem requires significant investment volume. The country lacks domestic investment and cannot count on foreign investors. Nevertheless, the country finds the necessary capital proceeding from the present situation, the government is developing programmes and investment projects, the necessary organizational technical actions also take place.

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