Today there is an understanding that having passed a long and difficult way Belarus has formed as a subject of international relations.
International relations are cooperation of states. The mechanism, designed to ensure the effectiveness of such cooperation, is international law.
The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus along with other state bodies provides legal protection of the rights and interests of our state, renders legal support to our citizens and organizations abroad. The International Cooperation Department performs this function within the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus.
The International Cooperation Department was founded on July 1, 1992. Since 1992 the Ministry of Justice has began to form an international treaty framework for cooperation between Belarus and foreign states in the legal sphere, to establish instruments for protection of interests of citizens, organizations and the state abroad.
On the basis of international treaties on legal assistance our citizens and organizations are given the right to address the justice institutions of other states, to sue, to bring petitions, and carry out other procedural actions as an equal, therefore such treaties are very important. They promote the development of relations both at the level of citizens and at the level of subjects of foreign economic activity, that is of great importance for such an export-oriented state as ours.
The conclusion of international treaties demands great efforts and professionalism. The central element of such activity is negotiations, when representatives of two states are opposite each other in the literal and figurative sense and are formulating the provisions of a treaty. Each side in this case has its own goals and interests, which are frequently opposite. Reaching consensus is very difficult. Thus, it should be taken into consideration that negotiations are held with representatives of other states, cultures, bearers of various legal traditions. It is important to be a diplomat, as well as a psychologist, a linguist and, of course, a lawyer. After all, employees of the Ministry of Justice must always be guided by national interests.
Currently 91 international treaties in the legal sphere have entered into force for the Republic of Belarus: 12 multilateral conventions (in particular, the Minsk Convention on Legal Assistance and Legal Relations in Civil, Family and Criminal Matters of January 22, 1993 and the Chisinau Convention on Legal Assistance and Legal Relations in Civil, Family and Criminal Matters of October 7, 2002), 31 interstate bilateral treaties on mutual legal assistance in civil, criminal matters and extradition, 7 interstate and intergovernmental treaties on cooperation in the legal sphere, 41 inter-ministerial treaties on various issues of cooperation in the sphere of justice. Among them, 5 international treaties entered into force in 2019.
The geography of bilateral interstate treaties on mutual legal assistance in civil, criminal matters and extradition covers such countries as Bulgaria, Hungary, Vietnam, India, Iran, China, Pakistan, Cuba, Latvia, Lithuania, the United Arab Emirates, Poland, Serbia, Syria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Sri Lanka.
Treaties on cooperation in legal shpere are concluded with Kazakhstan, Qatar, Russia and Uzbekistan.
6 international treaties were signed in 2017: the multilateral Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance of November 23, 2007; 2 interstate treaties with Egypt, interministerial international treaties on cooperation in the sphere of justice with Sudan, Afghanistan, and Azerbaijan.
7 interstate treaties were signed in 2018 (with Brazil, Mongolia and Sudan), 3 interministerial treaties were concluded (with Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Spain). In order to expand cooperation with member states of the European Union on March 5, 2018 the Cooperation Program between the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus and the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Poland for 2018-2020 was concluded.
In 2019 the bilateral interstate treaty (Republic of Zimbabwe), the multilateral international treaty (United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation), 4 interministerial international treaties (Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus and the Ministry Law of the Republic of Singapore, Memorandum on Cooperation between the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus and the Ministry of Justice of the Turkish Republic, Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus and the National Records and Archives Authority of the Sultanate of Oman in the sphere of historical documentation, records and archives administration, Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus and the Ministry of Justice the Republic of Cuba on mutual cooperation) were signed.
Draft international treaties with South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka are prepared for signing. The work on drafting of the international treaties with Morocco, Argentina, Venezuela, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, Kuwait, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and other countries is continuing.
The work has begun on conclusion of interstate treaties on legal assistance and extradition with Saudi Arabia and interministerial memorandums on cooperation with Bahrain, Belgium, Italy.
The Ministry of Justice is defined as the central body for coordination of realization of relevant international obligations according the majority of treaties and conventions in legal sphere. For the purpose of appropriate carrying out this work it became necessary to establish the Division on Realization of International Treaties, which was formed on October 1, 1997.
The Division on Realization of International Treaties organizes execution of requests from foreign justice institutions in the territory of the Republic of Belarus 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 increases and, accordingly, the number of requests, received by the Division, increases.
Taking into consideration the high responsibility for the fulfillment of obligations, assumed under the legal assistance treaties, the Ministry of Justice has organized ongoing methodical assistance on application of the legal assistance treaties. Appropriate Methodical Recommendations on the procedure for rendering legal assistance by the institutions of justice of the Republic of Belarus to the institutions of justice of foreign states and on the procedure for requesting legal assistance from these institutions have been worked out, which 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 adopted.
Besides the work on conclusion of international treaties, ensuring their execution a significant part of the activity of the Department is privision of conclusions on correspondence of all international treaties to the national legislation. This work requires a thorough knowledge of all national legislation.
One of the areas of activity is participation in the legal support for integration processes with the involvement of the Republic of Belarus. In 2011-2014 coordination of the activities of government within preparation of the draft Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, which was signed on May 29, 2014 was organized. Currently the Ministry is providing legal conclusions regarding draft decisions of the EAEU bodies, as well as coordinates the work of the Belarusian part of the Consolidated Working Group on improving the provisions of the aforementioned Treaty.
The Ministry of Justice fully supports cooperation with the ministries of justice of foreign countries, actively cooperates with the UN Office in Belarus, UNICEF, the EU Delegation to the Republic of Belarus, the Hague Conference on Private International Law, and the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation.
A productive mechanism for cooperation with legal departments of foreign states is specialized formats of international interaction between ministries of justice. The relevant bodies operate within the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the European Union’s Eastern Partnership initiative, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The Ministry of Justice is organizing work on the implementation of international humanitarian law in Belarus, through the activities of the Commission on the Implementation of International Humanitarian Law under the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus, which ensures cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross.