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Experts: Forum of non-commercial law gives a chance to step away from disunity of CSOs

28.05.2015  |  Society   |  Piotr Kuchta,  EuroBelarus
Experts: Forum of non-commercial law gives a chance to step away from disunity of CSOs photo by Aliaksei Kazliuk, Lawtrend

The participants of the first Belarusian Forum of non-commercial law relate their hopes with the map of legal reforms, though to realize the instrument a long-term work is needed.

Let us recall that on May 23-24 the first Belarusian Forum of non-commercial law took place in Vilnius. The Forum was organized by the Center for Legal Transformation “Lawtrend”, the Assembly of democratic NGOs, NGO Law Institute (Lithuania), and European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (Hungary) in cooperation with the Belarusan Human Rights House named after B. Zvozsky.

About a hundred of lawyers and leaders of the biggest non-governmental organizations, as well as experts from Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia took part in the work of the Forum.

The participants of the Forum shared their impressions and expectations with the “EuroBelarus“ Information Service.

Siarhei Matskevich, the head of the Assembly of democratic NGOs, believes that the Forum is successful because “this event has gathered not only specialists, experts, lawyers that are involved in non-commercial law, but also those, who need it in their everyday practice – representatives of non-state organizations; and by this we tried to consider the same problems from different angles”.

Second important question that I would underline from the two-day intense work is that preparation and promotion of the map of legal reforms was declared for our future plans. And that means that organizations won’t stop only at their narrow work front, but also will have to look around and see what problems other CSOs have so that to step out as united front. Thus, for example, we avoid such situations when social organizations ignore human rights organizations, and vice versa. Not only the lack of our unity is to the state’s advantage, but it also blocks development way for others. We should oppose such actions by promoting changes that would be useful for the whole NGO sector”, - said Siarhei Matskevich.

Aliaksei Kazliuk, the lawyer of the Legal Transformation Center “Lawtrend”, sees the Forum “in two dimensions”. “The first one is the Forum as an area of dialog between people that are involved in the issues of non-commercial law and freedom of associations, the second one is the Forum as an opportunity of additional consolidated voice in elaboration and lobbying of some general stance. The results of work in these two dimensions, I think, are completely different. The Forum is successful if we consider the appearance of an area for dialog, discussion, and taking some local decisions, - tells Aliaksei Kazliuk. – I moderated the section for work with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) where we summed up the results of our former work with the UPR and formulated a number of recommendations for ourselves, and I am sure that the results of the Forum in terms of their usefulness for improving work with the UPR are feasible, significant, and will bring effect when used. As to the Forum as an area for elaborating a consolidated stance and voicing it on behalf of the whole Forum, I think we didn’t quite succeed in that. There were some attempts to formulate different stances on behalf of the Forum, but for now it’s hard to say whether they will be successful. Naturally, a number of different opinions on advocatory issues appeared, though it’s hard to say what do we want from other actors. Thus, I think it is too early to talk about consolidated stance; but anyway, the positive result is that all these actions were actualized and discussed at the Forum”.

Aliaksei Kazliuk emphasizes: “we need to take into account that this was the first Forum”. “Clearly, to a large degree the event was a procedure that measured the general temperature as well as an attempt to get together and discuss quite a broad number of issues that might be realized in perspective. First of all – a map of reforms. If the map is realized it is only thanks to the Forum, since this is the area where the idea was voiced and an attempt of consolidation around this idea happened”.

According to Volha Smalianka, the head of the Legal Transformation “Lawtrend”, the Forum enabled “the so-called inventory of human resources, lawyers that are working in the non-commercial sector”.

“Secondly, Forum allowed discussing and voicing problems that absolutely different NGOs have. I hope that thanks to the Forum the leaders of these organizations could see that have much more in common than it seems”, - Volha Smalianka said.

She also says that the main thing is that the participants of the Forum have agreed on elaborating the map of reforms in the sphere of non-commercial law:

Of course, the process of elaboration and agreement on this map will be quite long and complicated, but it is very important that the participants of such map come to the understanding of such necessity. The Center for Legal Transformation “Lawtrend” and the Assembly of democratic NGOs will be establishing the basis – the provisions that should be reformed. Then this map will be adjusted so that to answer the interests of different organizations. One of the goals for creating such map is to make it useful for any CSOs when defining their problems in the sphere of law, including the international level. Besides, the map will be the basis for the dialog between NGOs and the state; NGOs will have a possibility to appear with the common stance on the issues of changes in this sphere. The map can also serve as the basis for a dialog between the organizations”.

Volha Smalianka emphasizes: “It is difficult and not very correct to talk about the results of the first Belarusian Forum of non-commercial law; we can only talk about the results of work at the event. The results will be visible only after some time and after the actions that the participants agreed on at the Forum”.

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