The European Union and the Republic of Belarus held the 4th bilateral Human Rights Dialogue on 20 July in Brussels.
The dialogue allowed for an extensive exchange of views on the situation of human rights both in Belarus and in the European Union, focusing in particular on the freedoms of expression, assembly and association; the electoral rights; the death penalty, the penitentiary reform, anti-discrimination policy, gender equality and the fight against violence in the family. The European Union appreciated the participation and contribution of a number of civil society organisations on civil, political, economic, societal and cultural rights. Discussions were equally dedicated to the development of Belarus' national institutions for protection of human rights and further implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan.
Furthermore, the sides discussed cooperation in promoting human rights in international fora, including cooperation with the UN mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review. A number of individual cases were addressed.
The European Union delegation was led by Thomas Mayr-Harting, Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and included representatives of the EEAS and the European Commission. The Belarusian delegation was led by Oleg Kravchenko, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus and included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice. Representatives of European Union Member States observed the talks. Representatives of Belarusian civil society and non-governmental organisations actively participated in parts of the dialogue.
The next regular Human Rights Dialogue meeting between the EU and Belarus is expected to take place in 2018.