Nordic Joint Statement
Issued by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, on the occasion of Arria formula meeting in United Nation Security Council on the human rights situation in Belarus
4 September 2020
Members of the Security Council,
I have the pleasure to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Iceland.
We welcome today’s opportunity to discuss the human rights situation in Belarus following the presidential election of 9 August 2020.
I would like to initially thank the briefers for their insightful and first-hand remarks about the situation.
The recent election in Belarus was neither free nor fair. Prior to the election, we witnessed with deep concern the detention of prospective candidates and irregularities related to candidate registration. Despite repeated calls, the lack of a timely, as well as unconditional, invitation to observe the presidential election led to the absence of independent international elections observers.
The use of widespread violence against peaceful demonstrators, journalists and other media workers, in the aftermath of the election was deeply troubling. The desire of the people of Belarus to be respected and heard in free and fair elections is a legitimate demand. The situation called for the Belarusian authorities to address the legitimate protests of the people and enter into genuine and inclusive dialogue. Instead, we witnessed indiscriminate and unjustified arrests and violence against demonstrators, journalists and other media workers. We cannot stand idly by and hesitate in our criticism, when faced with such grave human rights violations and restrictions of freedoms. We will address the situation in the UN Human Rights Council.
The Belarusian authorities must release all unlawfully detained persons, including those detained on political grounds. We are deeply alarmed by the criminal cases opened against the Coordination Council, as well as the intimidation and detention of its members. We call for a thorough, independent and transparent investigation into the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of people under detention. All perpetrators of human rights violations must be held accountable. This will be crucial in order to address the post-election grievances and achieve reconciliation. We urge the Belarusian authorities to engage with the current and incoming OSCE chairpersonship in facilitating an inclusive and national dialogue in the country.
We respect the Belarusian people’s right to choose their own path. Free and independent media and a strong civil society are the fundamental ingredients to provide sustainable solutions to the crisis in Belarus. There is no reason to be afraid of genuine democratic debate. The voices of the people of Belarus need to be heard and taken into account.
In closing, we support all efforts to peacefully end the crisis, and we will continue to support a democratic, independent, sovereign, prosperous and stable Belarus.