The human rights organization “Our House” is actively engaged in significant work with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Specifically, this involves the preparation of a comprehensive report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights titled “Call for Input: Conscientious Objection to Military Service”. The completion of this work is scheduled for October 6, 2023, and the report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in accordance with Resolution 51/6.
The goal of “Our House” in this project is to provide an account of the situation regarding Belarusian conscientious objectors within Belarus, as well as to shed light on the fate of those Belarusian conscientious objectors who managed to escape to Lithuania.
Why is “Our House” participating in this?
In UN Resolution 51/6, the UN Human Rights Council requested the High Commissioner to prepare a report “following consultations with all States and relevant intergovernmental organizations, entities, funds and programs of the United Nations, the special procedures of the Human Rights Council, treaty bodies, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations“. The report should include “recommendations on the legal and policy framework for the protection of human rights in the context of conscientious objection to military service, in accordance with States’ obligations under both international human rights law and applicable international human rights standards“.
In the preparation for the extensive report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, participants in this process, including “Our House”, have taken the obligation to present information concerning the acknowledgment of the right to conscientious objection to military service within domestic legislation (specifically, Belarusian legislation). This includes an assessment of whether constitutional law provides protection.
And also to provide information on the scope of the right to conscientious objection to military service and any exceptions applicable to it under domestic law. Indicate whether exceptions apply to specific situations, such as a state of emergency and/or armed conflict, to certain categories of persons, such as voluntary military service personnel, and to specific locations, including citizens residing in areas outside the state’s territory but under its effective control.
“Our House” has long been extensively involved in the issues of Belarusian conscientious objectors. We have amassed a vast amount of information on this matter, published dozens of articles addressing the challenges faced by Belarusian conscientious objectors, and in essence, we have accumulated substantial expertise on the subject. It is this expertise that enabled us to participate in a significant endeavor, such as contributing to the preparation of a comprehensive report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.