The Republic of Belarus, having passed a long and difficult way, has formed as a subject of international relations.
The most important sphere of international relations is international law. International relations resemble relations between people: that state is right if it fully understands its own rights and is able to present and protect them.
The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus along with other state bodies carries out legal protection of the rights and interests of our state, renders legal support to our citizens and organizations abroad. Within the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus this function is carried out by International Cooperation Department. The Department was founded on July 1, 1992. That day was a starting point for efforts to form a legal framework of Belarusian cooperation with foreign states in the legal sphere, and to create instruments for protection of interests of citizens, organizations and the state abroad.
Belarusian citizens and organizations are given the right to address as an equal the institutions of justice of other states, to sue, to bring petitions, to enjoy other rights in accordance with legal assistance treaties. That’s why such agreements are very important. They promote the development of citizens’ contacts and cooperation between subjects of foreign economic activity, that is a matter of great importance for our state due to its export orientation.
Working on conclusion of a treaty demands huge efforts and professionalism. The apotheosis of this work are negotiations between representatives of two states, sitting opposite each other and formulating a treaty. Each party in this case has its own goals and interests which are frequently opposite. To find a consensus is very difficult. Thus it is necessary to take into consideration that representatives of other states and cultures take part in negotiations bearing various traditions and customs. It is important to be a diplomat, as well as a psychologist, a linguist and, certainly, a lawyer. Along with, officials of the Ministry of Justice must have been guided by national interests.
The Ministry of Justice concluded treaties with Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Cuba, India, Iran, Italy, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Syria, Serbia, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Vietnam, Venezuela and a number of other states. Forthcoming plans are to sign legal assistance treaties with the Republic of Korea, the Republic of South Africa, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and other countries.
Under the aegis of the Ministry of Justice multilateral cooperation is actively developing. The strategic task is the accession of the Republic of Belarus to the Council of Europe conventions in criminal and legal sphere. The Ministry of Justice was defined as the central body (agency) for coordination of implementation of international obligations according the majority of treaties and conventions in legal sphere. On October 1, 1997 the Division on Realization of International Treaties was created for the purpose of carrying out this work.
The Division on Realization of International Treaties organizes execution of incoming requests from foreign institutions of justice and, accordingly, examines and forwards requests of Belarusian institutions of justice for execution to foreign states. With the expansion of cooperation between states in this area the amount of rendered legal assistance and, accordingly, the quantity of requests, received by the Division, increases. It is necessary to admit that the given Division consists of four persons and receives daily not less than 40 requests!
Taking into consideration the high responsibility for performance of the obligations accepted under the legal assistance treaties, the Ministry of Justice has organized the constant methodical assistance on application of the legal assistance treaties. Appropriate Methodical recommendations were worked out and are actively used in practice. The Instruction on rendering legal assistance to citizens of the Republic of Belarus on issues of execution of the legal assistance treaties of the Republic of Belarus was approved.
Consideration of appeals of citizens and explanation of legal assistance treaties is also one of the main tasks of the Ministry of Justice in this sphere. Personal reception of citizens is held at a convenient time. In case of absence of legal assistance treaty certificates thereof are given at the day of receiving the appeal. Counseling by phone is widely used. Urgent issues are regularly covered in mass media. It is necessary to admit, that the accepted measures have reduced the amount of citizens applications concerning execution of legal assistance treaties.
Besides the work on conclusion of treaties in legal sphere a significant segment of the activity of the International Cooperation Department is granting conclusions on correspondence of all treaties to the national legislation. This work requires the first class knowledge of all national legislation, because the treaties are concluded in different spheres: in the sphere of culture, trade, taxation, military sphere, etc.
The Ministry of Justice has good relations with ministries of justice of many foreign states within the Union State, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Community of Independent States, actively cooperates with the Hague Conference on Private International Law. The Ministry of Justice has been constantly working on improving the system of justice in Belarus in accordance with the international standards.