Comprehensive approach to the formation of a barrier-free environment. Challenges and Strategies

A methodological workshop “Comprehensive approach to the formation of a barrier-free environment. Challenges and Strategies” took place in Minsk on September 21, 2016.

The event was organized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Belarus in co-operation with the Department of the European Social Charter with the support of the Council of Europe Information Point in Minsk.

Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Belarus Rumak A.A., representatives of state administrative bodies, regional executive committees and Minsk city executive committee, members of the Department of the European Social Charter, the Council of Europe experts, as well as public associations of people with disabilities took part in the seminar.

The main objective of the seminar was to develop a comprehensive approach in creating of an accessible environment for supporting normal human life of people with disabilities, taking into account provisions of the European Social Charter. Creating a barrier-free environment is one of the priorities of the state social policy of the Republic of Belarus, which aimed at bringing into action effective measures for social protection, improving quality of life, providing equality and full participation of people with disabilities in public life.

Reference: The European Social Charter is a Council of Europe treaty, which complements the European Convention on Human Rights, fixing a number of economic and social rights. It was adopted in 1961 and revised in 1996. The Charter guarantees a broad range of rights connected with the basic needs of a daily life in the area of ​​employment and working conditions, housing, education, health care and social protection. The Charter puts an emphasis on protection of vulnerable social groups such as senior citizens, children, people with disabilities and migrants. Control mechanisms introduced by the Charter include two procedures: collective complaints procedure, which allows social partners and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) submit a complaint against what they consider improper fulfillment of the Charter, as well as the procedure of national reports prepared by member states (reporting system). The European Committee of Social Rights enforces obligations undertaken by member states under the Charter.

47 member states of the Council of Europe have signed the Charter, 43 of which have ratified the Charter of 1961-th year, or the revised Charter.

The exercise of rights, covered by the Charter, is provided without discrimination based on race, color of skin, gender, language, religion, political and other opinions, ethnic or social origin, health, belonging to a national minority, birth or other status feature.

Despite the fact that the European Social Charter is opened for signature only for member states of the Council of Europe, it should be considered as a model for non member states to bring into conformity their national legislation and practices with the provisions of the Charter to ensure effective access to basic social rights.