From February 27 to March 4 2011, Jean-François Akandji-Kombé and Sebastien Botreau-Bonneterre, respectively General Secretary and Director of the International Human Rights Institute for Peace, have made several speeches in Minsk on the themes of human rights in Europe, especially during a lecture at the Law Faculty thanks to the invitation of the dean and a conference at the Pouchkine library.
They received a warm welcome in Minsk, despite the Siberian cold. Far from the simplistic images conveyed by Western Europe, the debates which emerged during and after conferences have put in the limelight educated and inquisitive people, who are resolutely focused toward the future and aware of their cultural specificity and the challenges ahead of them. Of course, the burden of history is felt up to the most trivial discussion: the Great Patriotic War (almost one Belarusian out of three died during the Second World War), the effects of the Chernobyl disaster, as well as the political consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union which are still felt today.
During these talks and meetings, ideas of cooperation and projects regarding the protection of people and the fight against human smuggling have been raised. Waiting for their potential achievement, the Institute is happy to receive, like every year, 10 francophone and Francophile Belarusian students at the 2011 University for Peace whose central theme will be Peace and Art. Let’s hope that these students will turn out to be as brilliant as the previous ones.