Belarus

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Environmental Law

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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Belarus

    Environmental protection in the Republic of Belarus is based on constitutional principles and constitutional norms. Article 46 of the constitution states:

  • Everyone shall be entitled to a conducive environment and to compensation for loss or damage caused by the violation of this right
  • The State shall supervise the rational utilization of natural resources to protect and improve living conditions, and to preserve and restore the environment

  • The framework for environmental protection in Belarus is the Law on Environmental Protection, which stipulates the principles and the tasks of environmental protection.

Featured Legislation

1992: The Law on Environmental Protection was adopted, granting provisions for environmental policy and management; the rights and responsibilities of citizens and public associations; the need to set environmental norms, standards and certification; environmental impact assessment and ecological expertise; protected natural areas; and environmental monitoring and environmental registration.

1993: The Law on Waste was introduced. The Law consists of 9 Sections composed of 45 articles dealing with the following matters: 1) general provisions (sect. 1, arts. 1-6); 2) the state regulation in the sphere of waste management (sect. 2, arts. 7-13); 3) classification of waste (sect. 3, arts. 14-17); 4) general requirements for waste management (sect. 4, arts. 18-31); 5) management of hazardous waste (sect. 5, arts. 32-34); 6) rate setting and registration (sect. 6, arts. 35-36); 7) economic mechanism of nature management and environmental protection in the process of waste management (sect. 7, arts. 37-39); 8) supervision and control in the sphere of waste management (sect. 8, arts. 40-43); 9) liability and compensation (sect. 9, arts. 44-45). The present Law determines the legal basis for waste management and is aimed at the prevention of hazardous impact of waste on environment and human health, ensures legal protection of the rights and legal interests of the persons involved in waste management, and also for the maximum application of recycling procedures. The basic principles of the state policy in the sphere of waste management shall be: 1) the priority of environmental protection; 2) scientifically substantiated combination of the ecological and the economic interests of society for the purpose of ensuring sustainable development; 3) introduction of ecofriendly processes; 4) complex recycling of waste (art. 8). Waste shall be generally classified as domestic waste and industrial waste (art. 14). The determination of waste disposal sites shall be carried out in conformity with the special geological, hydrological and other research in accordance with the national legislation (art. 19). Transboundary movement of waste to the Republic of Belarus for the purpose of storage and (or) sterilization thereof shall be prohibited. Transboundary movement of waste to the Republic of Belarus shall be authorized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection only for the purpose of the utilization thereof as raw materials or for recycling (art. 31). Disposal of hazardous waste shall be authorized only on special sites (art. 32).

1996: A law on the protection and use of Fauna (No. 598-XII) was created.

1997: Law No. 29-Z on protection of atmospheric air was passed. This Law consists of 13 Chapters that contain 66 articles. The present Law has as its purpose conservation and improvement of quality of atmospheric air, it renewal for ensuring ecological safety and prevention of negative environmental impact. Enterprises, institutions, organizations and other subjects of economic activity which activity is related to emission on pollutants into atmospheric air, hazardous impact thereon shall have the duty to ensure inspection over the amount and composition of pollutants emitted into atmospheric air and the maintenance of level of hazardous physical and other impact thereon and to suspend or completely stop production process in case of impossibility to comply with air quality norms and standards regarding protection of atmospheric air. The following norms shall be set up for the purpose of obtaining and conservation of favourable quality of atmospheric air: a) norms of total allowable concentration of pollutants in atmospheric air; b) norms of total allowable emission of pollutants in atmospheric air and hazardous physical and other impacts thereon; c) norms of contents of pollutants in exhausts and hazardous impact of stationary sources on atmospheric air; d) norms of specific emissions of pollutants in atmospheric air.

2000: The Law on Specially Protected Natural Areas was introduced to determine the legal basis for the functioning and the protection of specially protected natural areas.

2000: The Law on State Ecological Expertise was drafted, listing what concepts, programmers, sectoral and territorial development schemes are Subject to State ecological expertise (SEE).

2001: A regulation approved by the Council of Ministers outlined the main tasks of The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. Some of the tasks include:

  • Developing a common State policy on environmental protection and the rational use of natural resources
  • Coordinating the activities of other State authorities, local relevant executive and controlling authorities
  • Controlling the activities in environmental protection, guaranteeing information on the state of the environment
  • And ensuring that protection and sanitation measures are taken

2003: A law on the protection of Flora (205-3) was passed in order to protect the country’s 12,000 plant species.

2007: The Wildlife Law was enacted.

This Law provides for the protection and sustainable management of wildlife and their natural habitats in order to conserve biological diversity and prevent harm to wildlife from disasters and negative environmental impacts. Protection and management of wild fauna and their natural habitats shall be based on the following principles: (a) sustainability and conservation of biological diversity; (b) animal welfare, including prevention of cruelty; (c) use of wild fauna; (d) payment for the use of wildlife species; (d) liability; (e) compensation for damages caused by wild fauna to agricultural crops or forest species; (f) compensation of damages caused to wild fauna or their natural habitats; and (g) access to information related to the state of wild fauna and their natural habitats. Rare and endangered wildlife species shall be recorded in the Red Book of protected species. The number of harmful animals shall be subject to mandatory regulation. Management of wild fauna shall be carried out through: (a) hunting (artisanal and industrial); (b) fishing (artisanal and industrial); and (c) their use for scientific, educational or recreational purposes. The Act consists of 16 sections: (1) general provisions; (2) state regulation and management of wildlife; (3) protection of wildlife and their natural habitats; (4) acclimatization, repopulation, stock enhancement and reproduction of wildlife species; (5) regulation of activities that may have negative impact on wildlife and their natural habitats; (6) wildlife management; (7) activities related to the management of wildlife (hunting, fisheries and purchase of fish and wild animals; (8) animal welfare; (9) captive breeding of wild fauna; (10) wildlife products; (11) standardization in the field of wildlife management; (12) subsidies and incentives for the management of wild fauna; (13) registration and monitoring of wild fauna; (14) supervision; (15) liability and compensation; and (16) final provisions.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • In September 2020: environmental activists Irina Sukhy, Andrey Egorov and Anastasia Zakharevich were arrested and detained without any justifiable reason. All three were advocating environmental justices within the state, participating in peaceful protests at a battery power plant located in Brest. A clear violation of the Aarhus Convention, such unlawful arrests infringe on citizens’ rights to environmental information, public participation and access to justice. These protests aim to call attention to the questionable operations of Russian and Chinese companies investing in the construction of nuclear power plants in Belarus. China has been accused of employing debt-trap diplomacy, pushing Belarus into debt via massive infrastructure loans and unsustainable practices which, inevitably, lead to increasing emissions, carbon leakage and the abuse of natural resources.
  • The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders is concerned about the growing repression of environmental protest movements in Brest, Belarus. Vladimir Velichkin, an environmental rights defender and member of the Human rights Center, was unlawfully arrested in February 2019.  Velichkin was found guilty of participating in an unauthorized mass event under Article 23.34 of the Belarus Code of Administrative offences and was fined 382,5 Belarusian rubles (approximately 156 euros). Article 23.34 violates the right to peaceful assembly in Belarus, unjustifiably prohibiting citizens to hold peaceful assemblies and runs the risk of dismantling the fervent environmental justice movement in Belarus.

References and Further Reading

Contacts

Ministry of Natural Resource and Environmental Protection: minproos@mail.belpak.by