Seminar “Educational process on forced migration and statelessness in Belarusian universities”

seminar “Educational process on forced migration and statelessness in Belarusian universities” was held from on May 30-31, 2019. The event was organized by INA "Evolutio" with the support of the UNHCR Office in the Republic of Belarus.

Representatives of the Faculty of International Relations and Law Faculty of Belarusian State University, Vitebsk State University named after P. M. Masherov, Yanka Kupaka Grodno State University, Polotsk State University, Fransisk Skorina Gomel State University, Belarusian State Economic University, Academy of Interior Ministry, Mogilev State A. Kuleshov University, Brest State A. S. Pushkin University and Border Guard Service Institute of Belarus participated in the event.

A seminar was launched with the opening speeches from the head of Observation Board of INA “Evolutio” Victor Shadursky and legal adviser to the UNHCR Office in Belarus Timofey Solodkov.  Victor Shadursky stressed the importance of a decent level of professional competence in issues related to forced migration and statelessness and raised the question of possibility and necessity of establishing inter-university contacts of students and undergraduates interested in studying the topics of forced migration and statelessness. T. Solodkov told the seminar participants in details about the mandate and activities of the UNHCR in the Republic of Belarus and in the world, and also introduced participants to the problem of statelessness and presented the UNHCR’s vision on teaching forced migration and statelessness in Belarusian universities.

Following the opening remarks, each of the higher educational institutions of the Republic of Belarus was invited to present the ways of organization of educational process in his/her university or institute.

Natalia Karkanitsa, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of International Relations of BSU, told the participants of the seminar about the discipline “Refugee Law (including European Law in the Field of Migration and Asylum)” which is taught at the Faculty of International Relations. In the framework of the discipline issues of the formation and functioning of refugee law, the activities of UNHCR, and UNRWA are touched. Particular emphasis is placed on the features of the European legal system that are important for the Belarusian context - the accumulation of refugee status in the European Union, as well as issues related to the readmission. What’s more, a special attention is paid to the system of protection of the rights of refugees in the Republic of Belarus and on the application of international law in this area, as well as existing measures in Belarus.

In the framework of the discussion, it was noted that certain issues related to the problems of forced migrants and stateless persons are also mentioned in the disciplines for master and graduate students of the Faculty of International Relations of BSU.

During the discussion, the seminar participants put forward ideas to improve the methods of teaching these aspects with an increase in interdisciplinarity in dealing with issues of migration and statelessness and increasing the attention to the documents on this topic within the EAEU among the proposals.

Tatsiana Chervyakova, Chair of the Department of Public Administration, and Tatsiana Maslovskaya (Faculty of Law, BSU), Associate Professor of the Department of Constitutional Law, also presented teaching methods used in relation to forced migration and statelessness in the disciplines of the faculty. Thus, within the framework of the subject “Constitutional Law”, the legal status of foreign citizens, stateless persons and refugees is considered, characteristics and categorization of asylum seekers are given by focusing on the original sources - international treaties and agreements, as well as national legislation. The methods of modeling various situations and solving cases on given topics are used for the practical learning of the material. The issue of statelessness, as well as the problems associated with lustration and the granting of an asylum, are discussed in details within the related discipline "Constitutional law of foreign countries".

A separate topic within the discipline of “Administrative Law” is “Administrative and legal status of foreign citizens and stateless persons”. Across the topic specific administrative rights and obligations of these categories of persons are analyzed. The topic “Administrative and legal regimes” deals with such concepts as passport and visa regime, refugee certificate, exit-entry document and refugee travel document. The topic “Security and Law Enforcement Bodies in Administrative Law” presents the information about the activities of the Citizenship and Migration Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus and its territorial structure.

The representative of the State Border Committee of the Republic of Belarus, Alexey Sytenkov, in his presentation mentioned practical aspects, focusing on the problems faced by border guards, and also drew attention to the procedures within the framework of related administrative processes. For illustrative purposes he showed an educational video dedicated to illegal crossing of the state border. A. Sytenkov also spoke about the role of the State Border Committee in the framework of joint projects with IOM and UNHCR. Irina Koval, senior lecturer at the Border Guard Service Institute of the Republic of Belarus, noted that issues related to stateless persons and forced migration in their institutions are covered in such topics and disciplines as “Population in international law” and “Administrative and criminal procedural aspects of illegal migration”. The Institute of Border Service also emphasizes the importance of an interdisciplinary and comprehensive approach to data teaching, which is also due to the wide range of subjects that affect these problems: there is a need to train future border guards both on technical and administrative aspects (such as filling out documents correctly) and on the ability to build relationships with asylum seekers.

Senior Lecturer of the Department of the administrative activity of law enforcement agencies of the Academy of Interior Ministry Alexandr Fedorako in his presentation “Experience of the Academy of Interior Ministry in training personnel on the topic of migration” also focused on the courses and disciplines taught at the Academy of Interior Ministry. The special course “The bodies of internal affairs in the implementation of the institution of migration and asylum” deals with such topics as “Competence of the bodies of internal affairs of the Republic of Belarus in managing migration processes”, “The system of legislation of the Republic of Belarus on citizenship” and “Legal regulation of migration processes”. As part of refresher courses for employees of the Сitizenship and Migration units of the internal affairs bodies of the Republic of Belarus, the topics “The role of the internal affairs bodies in the implementation of migration legislation”, “Grounds and procedures for entry, transit, temporary stay, temporary and permanent residence of foreigners in the Republic of Belarus” are addressed. Furthermore, the problems of forced migration and statelessness are studied in the disciplines of retraining of employees of various categories.

During the following discussion, the participants agreed that for most educational institutions in the country the consideration of the problems of statelessness and forced migration is limited to the general course of disciplines within the subjects of “Administrative Law”, “Public International Law”, “International Humanitarian Law” and “Constitutional Law” . At the same time, each higher education institution has its own peculiarities related to the teaching of these disciplines.

In the Belarusian State Economic University, as noted by the Chair of the Department of international economic law Tatsiana Teliatitskaya, in addition to the above-mentioned list of disciplines, problems of statelessness and forced migration are also covered in such as “Commerce of the tourism industry” and “Responsibility in international law”.

Victoria Dorina, an intern at Polotsk State University, noted a tendency to increase the interest of PSU students in this topic, and also mentioned the benefits of such activities as, for example, watching movies on these issues.

Representing A. Pushkin Brest State University, Olga Slivko, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Theory and History of State and Law, noted various difficulties that arise while motivating students to work with the problems of refugees and stateless persons. At the same time, the university tries to compensate this by participating in international contests where certain aspects of international humanitarian law relate to a given topic.

Boris Bolokhonov, a lecture at the Department of Civil Law and Process at the Yanka Kupala Grodno State University, while acknowledging the existence of problems in this field, noted the importance of extracurricular work with students, in particular, through educational games.

Natalia Kopitkova, Head of the Department of Civil Law Disciplines of the Fransisk Skorina Gomel State University, spoke about their Master's course on Legal Regulation of Migration, which deals with the historical and international legal aspects of migration, as well as problems related to citizenship right.

Denis Berezko, Head of Sector of the Legal work of the Vitebsk State University named after P.M. Masherov, noted the involvement of students of the legal clinic and the club in international law, their legal and scientific assistance in this matter. In addition, he stressed the importance of considering the gender aspect of the problem.

Svetlana Hovratova, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Civil and Economic Law of Mogilev State A. Kuleshov University, iemphasized the importance of the personal attitude of professors in shaping students' attitudes towards discipline.

After the speeches of the representatives of the universities, the employees of the NGO “Development” Dmitry Belko and Ekaterina Novitskaya told about the organization’s activities and made a presentation on the topic “The use of technology in teaching students / undergraduates on the problems of forced migration and statelessness”. Particular emphasis was placed on such methods as intellectual games for students and role-playing games on UN Model (for example, the existing FIRMUN).

The seminar was continued by the presentation of the Executive Director of the INA “Evolutio” Andrey Selivanov on the topic “Materials for teaching the problems of refugees and statelessness in Belarusian universities”. As part of the presentation, he gave a brief overview of the main educational literature of Belarus and the near and far abroad on the problems of forced migration and statelessness.

At the final stage of the event, a draft manual on forced migration and statelessness was discussed. Andrey Selivanov presented the preliminary structure of the manual, which was supported by representatives of the academic community, and a decision was made on further cooperation in order to jointly prepare this manual for students and undergraduates.

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http://evolutio.info/en/news-en/2019-06-4#sigProIde7f0c3e0a2


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