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On 17 October 2019, the IRZ and the Constitutional Court of Belarus organised an expert conference in Minsk on “National constitutional law in the context of international law”. The IRZ experts taking part in the event were Prof. Dr. Michael Eichberger, a former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, and Dr. Matthias Hartwig, a research associate at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg. The German contributions were supplemented by short talks by Belarusian constitutional court judges.
The topics discussed at the conference were:
The relationship between international law and constitutional law: The role of the constitutional court in the interpretation and application of international law; international law as a criterion in constitutional court decisions
Hierarchy of norms, conflicts and harmonisation of laws – interpretation in compliance with international and constitutional law
Taking international law into account in the constitutional monitoring of national legislation and an overview of some of the recent decisions of the German Federal Constitutional Court
The characteristics of the rule-of-law principle and how this is supported and implemented by the Constitutional Court, as well as a presentation of the key elements of the rule-of-law principle
Attending the event were judges and heads of division from the Constitutional Court of Belarus, as well as members of the House of Representatives, the Council of the Republic, the Presidential Administration, the Court of the Eurasian Economic Union and various ministries. Academics and representatives from non-governmental organisations were also present.
The active involvement of the 55 or so participants showed that the themes chosen for the conference were of great interest. Some areas, such as the subject of constitutional complaints, also led to critical discussions with the participants.
On 15 March 2019, the IRZ, together with the National Centre of Intellectual Property of Belarus (NCIP), organised a conference on copyright law and copyright collectives in Minsk, Belarus. This followed on from the event on trademark and patent law, which took place in Minsk in November 2018.
The German expert speakers at the conference were Dr. Oliver Schön, a judge at the Regional Court of Munich, and Oliver Drews, a senior civil servant at the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA). The participants from Belarus included the National Centre of Intellectual Property and representatives from the Collective Management Centre at the NCIP. Also taking part in the conference were a judge from the IP Senate at the Supreme Court, lawyers specialising in copyright law, media representatives from the press and radio and people from the community who are concerned by copyright, such as photographers, designers and composers.
The German expert contributions focussed on the legal enforcement of copyright claims in Germany, which were described and discussed using practical case examples, as well as the function and activities of copyright collectives, their rights and obligations in Germany and how these are supervised by the DPMA. Short lectures by the Belarusian experts explained the copyright law in Belarus and how this is protected by the courts, as well as the structure of the collective management of copyright and how this works. Other subjects discussed included the charging of fees for private copies in Belarus and the organisational problems associated with this.
The expert lectures provided a good insight into the legal enforcement of copyright claims in Germany, the activity of copyright collectives and the supervision of these collectives. During a lively exchange between the Belarusian and German participants, sample copyright law cases from German legal practice were animatedly discussed. The scope of activity of the German association for Musical Performaning and Mechanical Reproduction Rights (GEMA) also met with great interest. The high number of participants and the very active involvement of almost all the 70 attendees were proof that the topics selected for discussion at the conference were highly topical and of great interest.
After a break of several years in the cooperation, the dialogue with the Constitutional Court of Belarus was resumed in September 2017, once expert meetings on law on lawyers, notarial law, case law and bailiffs had already taken place. The meeting held with the Constitutional Court of Belarus in Minsk at the end of September was to discuss the “Protection of fundamental rights by the constitutional court.” On the German side, the German Ambassador Peter Dettmar, Prof. Dr. Udo Steiner, a former judge at the German Constitutional Court, and Jes Möller, President of the Constitutional Court of the State of Brandenburg, took part in the conference. During discussions with the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of Belarus, Natalia Karpovich, issues concerning the role of the constitutional court within the structure of constitutional bodies and the indirect and direct access of citizens to the constitutional court through constitutional appeals, judicial reviews, constitutional disputes between government institutions etc. were discussed.
Working visit on the subject of women’s rights in Germany
From 11 to 16 September 2016, the IRZ organised a working visit by Belarusian lawyers to various judicial institutions and non-governmental organisations in Berlin and Cottbus for intense expert discussions on the subject of women's rights.
One priority of the working visit was to provide information on the legal regulations for protecting women against domestic violence, discrimination based on gender and at work and on guaranteeing social and economic rights.
In Belarus, there are no legal provisions for domestic violence against women. During the visit, the Belarusian delegation expressed the wish to establish in Belarus a similar system to the one that exists in Germany.
To begin their visit, the Belarusian delegation visited the Regional Court of Cottbus. The President of the Court, Ramona Pisal, welcomed the guests to discussions, which took place in a very open and trusting atmosphere. This was followed by talks at the Local Court in Potsdam on the special features of divorce proceedings, the allocation of assets during a divorce in Germany and on denial of custody.
Another venue for the working visit was the German Association of Female Lawyers. Here, the Protection against Violence Act in Germany was discussed, with a focus on its practical implementation. Equality between men and women in the workplace was also discussed.
An active exchange also took place with the German Federal Bar (BRAK). The subjects of discussion here were the duties of female lawyers in Germany and the general role played by lawyers in the German legal system.
With the Berlin Senate for Work, Integration and Women, the guests learned about how the position of women in German society has changed, the reforms that have been carried out and the measures that still need to be taken.
An informative and comprehensive exchange of experiences also took place with the Berlin Initiative against violence against women (BIG e.V.). It was particularly important to members of the Belarusian delegation to learn about the methods that can be used to protect women against domestic violence.
The penultimate stop on the working visit was at the penal institution in Luckau-Duben, to learn about the special features of women’s prisons. Afterwards, the delegation was hosted by the Heinrich Böll foundation [https://www.boell.de/] in Berlin.
Conference: “The role of the notary in preventive justice, particularly in company law”
On 18 September 2017, the IRZ together the Chamber of Notaries of the Republic of Belarus and the German Federal Chamber of Notaries organised a conference in Minsk on “The role of the notary in preventive justice, particularly in company law”.
During the conference, subjects including the following were discussed intensively:
The role of the notary in company law, including: setting up companies, conversions, changes, registration issues
The role of the notary in preventive justice, including: appointments, functions and tasks, supervision, liability, fees
From the German Federal Chamber of Notaries, the Vice-President, Notary Richard Bock, and Dr. Vladimir Primaczenko took part in the meeting.
The renewal of the cooperation with the Republic of Belarus was warmly welcomed by the President of the Belarusian Chamber of Notaries, Natalia Barysenko. She underlined the importance of this support for the further development of notarial law.
The Chamber is aiming to join the UINL (Unión Internacional del Notariado). The IRZ would like to continue supporting this process as much as it can, with experts from the German Federal Chamber of Notaries, and to accompany further reforms.