Definition of Youth

Belarus’ Law on Youth (2009) defines youth as between 14-31 years of age.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • --
  • --
  • Female
  • 18
  • --
  • --

  • Civil registration offices may reduce marriageable age in special circumstance by not more than three years. Parental consent is not required. No specific law for same-sex marriage. Homosexual acts legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
The penal code states minimum age is 16, however provides an extensive list of exceptions for which 14 year olds are liable. Source:  Penal Code of Belarus

Majority Age



Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.82% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.86% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 95.40%Male %
  • 95.83% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 31.60% Male (13-15) %
  • 22.20% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The state law on youth policy of Belarus is from 2009. A briefing paper from 2011 is available.

The state law on youth policy (2009) describes parameters for youth policy, stating its aims as:

  • Supporting comprehensive education;
  • Supporting spiritual, moral, and physical development, creation of conditions for free and effective participation in political, social, economic, cultural development;
  • Providing social, material, legal and other support and extending opportunities for choosing one’s life-path.
The Constitution guarantees the above as rights and emphasizes the role of the state to provide conditions for such to be achieved.

According to the 2011 briefing, from 2006 to 2010, a state youth program called “Youth of Belarus” was implemented. There is no mention of such a program or of any new program on the official webpage on youth policy of the Ministry of Education.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Education is responsible for youth affairs. Its webpage on youth policy states responsibility for:  
  • Civic & patriotic education of youth;
  • Healthy lifestyles;
  • Support for young families;
  • Support for young people in education;
  • Support for talented youth;
  • Promotion of the right to work and the rights of youth to associate;
  • Promotion of socially significant initiatives of youth;
  • International youth cooperation.
The Department of Youth Affairs in the Ministry of Education was abolished by Presidential decree in 2004.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The Belarusian Committee of Youth Organizations (BCYO) is the state recognized NYC, but the 2011 briefing says it is not active.   The Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRYU) receives 98% of the 2014 state budget for youth.   The Belarusian National Youth Council – RADA is the first post-independence NYC and member of the European Youth Forum. Crackdowns on civil society, especially after the 2010 elections caused it to go underground. Now RADA includes 20+ initiatives and is part of the Alternative Youth Policy Platform. Neither cooperates with the state.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
BYR 592 million
USD 60,346
According to The Republican Budget 2014, the budget allocation for youth is 43 737 323 000 BYR (Belarusian Rubles) or approximately 4 594 256 USD. The Ministry of Education, responsible for state youth policy, receives 1.35% of this budget (approx. BYR 592 million or USD 60,346). 98.65% goes to the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRYU), the largest state recognized youth organization. According to the World Bank, Belarus spent 17.5% of its government expenditure on education in 2012, but does not calculate what this translates to in terms of percentage GDP.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

According to the 2013 Freedom House Nations in Transit Report on Belarus, the country exists under a consolidated authoritarian regime, which is repressive to independent civil society:
[...] National Democratic Governance

The defining features of President Lukashenka’s autocratic regime remained constant during the year with no genuine breakthrough in political liberalization. Belarus’s national democratic governance rating remains unchanged at 6.75.

Electoral Process

Elections in Belarus are largely an administrative formality, conducted to validate the selection of pro-government candidates. Legislation fails to protect such basic tenets of free and fair elections as equal campaigning opportunities, representation of all political parties in the country’s electoral commission, and transparent vote counting. Following a boycott by some major opposition parties, not a single opposition candidate was elected in September’s parliamentary elections, which were condemned by international observers as neither free nor fair. Belarus’s rating for electoral process remains unchanged at 7.00.

Civil Society

In 2012, Belarusian activists and civil society organizations endured heightened repression from the authorities. Nongovernmental organizations faced legal harassment, resulting in the closure of the offices of two prominent human rights organizations. During the parliamentary election campaign, authorities denied international election monitors entry visas. …  Belarusian activists involved in similar prodemocracy demonstrations faced fines and jail time. Owing to the regime’s growing intolerance for all forms of criticism, Belarus’s civil society rating deteriorates from 6.25 to 6.50. 

[...] Local Democratic Governance

Local officials have extensive responsibilities in carrying out government programs, especially in the areas of health, administration, and infrastructure. However, they are often underfunded due to the lack of local revenue sources. State authorities tend to be more attentive to local level initiatives than to national opposition movements, but engagement is usually limited to diffusing conflicts. Belarus’s local democratic governance rating remains at 6.75.
The RHRPA – Belarusian Helsinki Committee corroborates these findings about human rights in Belarus. The Situation of Human Rights in Belarus in 2012 - REVIEW-CHRONICLE prepared annually by the Human Rights Centre VIASNA in Minsk, confirms the gravity of this situation for independent civil society, especially independent youth organizations active in the democratic opposition:
[...] During the year, human rights organizations recorded numerous instances of pressure on public and political activists on the part of the security services. This pressure was consequent and personally oriented. The security services paid a special attention to representatives of youth associations and coordinators of social networks. Various methods of influence were used on them, starting from calls to «talk» to the KGB and ending with arbitrary and illegal detentions and administrative arrests, warrantless searches of private premises and the like. The arrests of youth activists Mikalai Dzemidzenka, Pavel Vinahradau and Uladzimir Yaromenak were notable in this regard. These activists were regularly charged with alleged disorderly conduct – the use of obscene language in public. The practice of isolation of dissidents became systemic. Representatives of Belarusian human rights organizations applied to the Prosecutor General and the head of the Supreme Court with a proposal to meet and discuss the situation, but were ignored.
The European Youth Partnership 2011 briefing, alludes to the implications of this situation for young people, for youth organizations and for youth policy, emphasizing the fact that all youth policy actions remain squarely the preserve of the State and under its control:
[...] Nowadays, the State is considered to be the main actor in the field of Youth Policy and has the largest resources for effective implementation of Youth Policy. Other actors of Youth Policy, such as NGO’s, are to act in the conditions, which are set by the State. […] From above mentioned information we can conclude the following: 1- No Financial support to NGOs from the State institutions. Only 2-3 organizations get support; 2- All grants received for projects have to be registered in the Department of Humanitarian Aid of the administration of the President. 3- The majority of donors in the country provide financial support mainly for very specific projects (work with disabled people, ecology, etc.). Practically, there is no foundation supporting actual youth participation and development of youth organizations.
From the National Human Development Report (2005):
The relatively high share of youth crime is a cause of great concern. In 2002, 8.9% of all convicted criminals were minors. … The growth of youth crime is facilitated by a deep crisis in the family unit, as many adults are failing to perform their parental duties. The growing inequality in wealth distribution is also a contributing factor. Some young people are motivated to commit crime by a perception that their economic «net worth» is inferior to that of their peers. Recidivism and gang crime remain common, reflecting the growing influence of anti-social and criminal groups. The penetration of criminal elements into youth groups contributes to the rising incidence of gang crime among minors. Some ninety per cent of young people report being members of some informal youth group, most of which have nothing to do with crime. However, when dominated by individuals with criminal backgrounds, some of these groups begin to encourage criminal activity among their members. Already, most youth offenders – especially at ages 14 – 15 – commit crimes in gangs. Anti-social youth groups also pro- mote heavy drinking, drug abuse and other deviant behaviours.