Belarus

The Law on the Foundations of the State Youth Policy (2009) describes the actors, objectives and direction for youth policy, as well as how it should be implemented, regulated, and financed. The Strategy for the Development of the State Youth Policy until 2030 sets out the long-term national goals and priorities in the youth sector, which are structured within 12 strategic priority areas.

Published on October 4, 2023
Updated on February 22, 2024

Definition of youth

The Law on the Foundations of the State Youth Policy (2009) defines youth as those aged 14 to 31 years old.

Definition 1
14 - 31 years
Definition 2

Voting Rights

Majority age
18 years
Voting age
18 years
Criminal responsibility
15 years

Candidacy age

Lower House
21 years
Upper House
30 years

Marriage & Gender

Without parental consent
Female
18 years
Male
18 years
With parental consent
Female
15 years
Male
15 years

Source: UNSD, UNDESA, ILGA

Is same-sex marriage legalized?
Female
Banned
Male
Banned

Source: UNSD, UNDESA, ILGA

Are other genders recognised?
Yes
compulsory medical diagnosis

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Yes

The Law on the Foundations of the State Youth Policy (2009) describes the actors, objectives and direction for youth policy, as well as how it should be implemented, regulated, and financed.

The Strategy for the Development of the State Youth Policy until 2030 sets out the long-term national goals and priorities in the youth sector, which are structured within 12 strategic priority areas.

The State Programme on Education and Youth Policy for 2021-2025 acts as the guiding document for both education and youth policy implementation. Within this programme, the Youth Policy sub-programme identifies two key objectives:

  1. Create conditions for the effective self-realisation of young people, formation of their active civic position, love for the Motherland and pride in its past and present, and responsibility for the fate of Belarus through the system of patriotic, spiritual and moral education;
  2. Form responsible behaviour and value attitudes of young people toward their own health as a condition for personal well-being and health of future generations.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority that is primarily responsible for youth?
Yes

According to an EU-CoE Contribution Report (2021) on youth policy governance in Belarus,

"The Ministry of Education of the Republic of Belarus is the responsible top-level authority for the overall development, co-ordination and drafting of the national development plans on youth issues in central government."

More specifically, the Office for Youth Affairs within the Ministry of Education is responsible for:

  • Implementing youth policy;
  • Coordinating state authorities in their implementation of youth policy;
  • Developing creative initiatives to make young people more socially and politically active;
  • Co-operating with national youth and children's public associations on youth policy;
  • Assisting youth employment;
  • Enabling activities of the Council of Youth Affairs.

At the time of writing, the website of the Ministry of Education was unavailable.

Youth & Representation

Does the country have a national youth organization or association?
Yes

According to an EU-CoE Contribution Report (2019) on youth participation in Belarus, two youth councils have been set up under the Ministry of Education. There is both a Youth Council - whose "system of work and representation mechanisms remains unclear" - and a Public Republican Student Council - which has representatives of all higher education institutions in the country.

The report also mentions the Belarusian National Youth Council (RADA), which was "liquidated in 2006 due to judicial restrictions imposed by the state towards public associations and organisations." Despite this, RADA continued operating underground and independently. According to an article by the International Youth Service of the Federal Republic of Germany (IJAB),

"On 23 July [2021], the Ministry of Justice of Belarus declared the National Youth Council RADA dissolved. The official reason given was: 'The organisations have repeatedly violated the law.' Staff of RADA and its affiliates are now at high risk of prosecution."

Regardless, RADA continues to be active, announcing elections for its Advisory Council on Youth in 2023 and regularly documenting and publishing cases of human rights violations against youth on the Crisis 2020 page on its site.

Youth work

Is youth work a formally recognised profession?
Yes

According to an EU-CoE Contribution Report (2019) on youth participation in Belarus,

"The National Institute for Higher Education provides a course on youth policy and socio-cultural communication. Specialists, teachers from state-run educational institutions, leaders of youth councils and organisations, and youth workers are invited to enrol on the course. As a result they graduate with a certificate on youth work competences."

Objectives of the Strategy for the Development of the State Youth Policy until 2030 pertaining to youth work include:

  • Creating an integral system for organising youth work, including through the introduction of the position of an employee "Specialist in working with youth";
  • Improving the system of training and retraining of specialists for work with youth;
  • Developing scientific and methodological support for the activities of specialists in working with youth.

Budget & Spending

Does the national youth policy have a dedicated budget?
Yes

According to the 2023 Budget, the Ministry of Education is allocated BYN 957.8 million (USD 379.03 million). Within the budget of "National Activities," State Youth Policy is allocated BYN 12.9 million (USD 5.1 million). Within the Budget of the Ministry of Education, State Youth Policy is allocated BYN 1.1 million (USD 435,306). Finally, within the budget of the State Programme on Education and Youth Policy for 2021-2025, the Youth Policy sub-programme is allocated BYN 2.4 million (USD 949,760).

Contextual Figures

Liberal Democracy Index
175
Youth Progress Index
72.73

Economic Indicators

GDP per capita
$7489.72
Human Development Index
0.808
Gini coefficient
24.4

Additional background

According to Human Rights Watch,

"In 2022, Belarusian authorities continued to purge independent voices, including through bogus prosecutions and harassment of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, opposition politicians, and activists. At time of writing, at least 1,340 people were behind bars on politically motivated charges and not a single human rights organization could operate in Belarus legally.

As of February 24, the Belarusian government has been letting Russian forces use the country's territory in Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Belarusian authorities prosecuted critics of the Russia-Ukraine war and brutally dispersed anti-war protests.

Authorities failed to conduct effective investigations into the widespread allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of peaceful protesters by law enforcement officers in August 2020 following the manipulated presidential vote."

The Belarusian National Youth Council (RADA) documents and publishes cases of human rights violations against youth on the Crisis 2020 section if its website. One article interviews Marharyta Vorykhava, a member of the Secretariat of Rada. In response to the dissolution of RADA, Vorykhava said,

"We expected something like this to happen, but not on such a massive scale. More than 270 organizations have been liquidated since July 23, which marked the end of civil society in Belarus.

We are not allowed to call official meetings or organize events. However, the breakup is not that of critical news for most organizations - because of the corona pandemic, civil society has shifted into the digital space, the organizations can continue to do what they have been doing all these years: organize events, record podcasts, write resolutions, publish articles, conduct surveys. This work can go on, but we are all aware that as representatives of active civil society, and especially by acting on behalf of liquidated organizations, we are seen by the government as a threat.

The entire Secretariat of RADA is now abroad because of the risk of political persecution, but most of the council members are still in Belarus."

Sources

See all sources (8)

Updates

  • Update 20.02.2024: Corrected small formatting errors
  • Update 22.02.2024: Added minimum candidacy age for president and source