Perspectives on human rights in a local context. A case study of Belarus.
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The present research makes several noteworthy contributions to the theme of perspectives on human rights in a local context by examining the case of Belarus. Its major objective is to examine the interrelation between the repressive human rights practices in Belarus and Belarusians’ attitudes toward human rights, the regime and human rights violations in their country. In particular, this thesis provides findings concerning Belarusians’ values, mentality and human rights thinking, as well as their level of satisfaction with the political and economic situation in their country and their readiness to stand up for their rights. These findings contribute to extending our knowledge on why president Lukashenka maintains his grip on power despite systemic human rights violations in the country. To advance a better understanding of this issue, the paper applies central concepts from various approaches on human rights, such as universalism versus relativism, individualism versus collectivism, ideology and the social contract theory. The largest part of the material used for this thesis is qualitative interview data, gathered through fieldwork in Belarus in July 2018. Secondary data analysis has been used to validate the research results. The main findings indicate that there exists a correlation between Belarusians’ perspectives on human rights and the regime’s repressive human rights practices in the country. This research provides evidence, which suggests that human rights related relativism is still entrenched in Belarusian society. Collective values, alternative interpretation of human rights, a gap in the knowledge on human rights and prioritizing stability and security rather than civil liberties explain why the human rights situation in Belarus remains unchanged. The empirical findings in this study can serve as a contribution to the debate on human rights perspectives in a local context, and as a base for future studies of the regime, the state of democracy and human rights in Belarus.