The Charter of the Rada Of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in Exile
(The term ‘Rada’ is retained from the original in the Belarusan language. It denotes a legislative body with some executive powers. ‘Belarusan Democratic Republic’ is the preferred English translation of the original in the Belarusan language – ‘Biełaruskaja Narodnaja Respublika’. The abbreviation ‘BNR’ is retained exactly as in the original.
- Authority, aims and responsibilities.
- The Rada of Belarusan Democratic Republic (BNR) is the supreme institution and the sole legitimate representation of the sovereign rights of the Belarusan people, expressed by the Legislative Act of the 25th of March, 1918, which was recorded in the Third Constitutional Charter of the BNR. The BNR Rada performs the functions of a National Legislature and of a Government-in-Exile.
- The rights of the BNR Rada are derived from the unlimited authority which was delegated by the All-Belarusan Congress to its Executive Council as its supreme body on December 31, 1917. After the formal establishment of the Belarusan Democratic Republic by the Second Constituent Charter, the Executive Council of the All-Belarusan Congress delegated its authority to the Rada of the Belarusan Democratic Republic (BNR). Under wartime conditions during World War II, BNR President Vasil Zacharka in 1943 passed on his authority by means of his last will and testament to Mikola Abramcyk, who took steps in 1947 to restore the functioning of the BNR Rada.
- As declared by the All-Belarusan Congress of 1917 this authority remains in force until a free election of a Constituent Assembly is held in an independent Belarusan Democratic Republic.
- The basic aim and responsibility of the BNR Rada are the maintenance and execution of the will of the Belarusan people as declared in the Act of March 25, 1918; namely, the re-establishment of independent Belarusan statehood on all Belarusan lands, using all possible and available means and ways.
- The execution of the responsibilities of the BNR Rada is accomplished by its subordinate bodies:
The Session of the BNR Rada
The Executive Council of the BNR Rada, headed by the BNR President
The Secretariat of the BNR Rada
The Audit Commission of the BNR Rada
The Court of the BNR Rada
- In translating from Belarusan into other languages, the term ‘Narodnaja Respublika’ is translated as ‘Democratic Republic’, and the title Chairman (Starsynia) of the BNR Rada, as the BNR President.
- The membership of BNR Rada.
- The BNR Rada is composed of Members of the Rada (MR) whose number shall not exceed 80 (eighty). Prospective members that are true to the Act of March 25 can be proposed by Belarusan political and civic organizations, as well as by informal independence-minded groups of Belarusans not fewer than 5 in number. Each proposed member must be recommended by at least two MRs. Such proposed membership along with the recommendation shall be sent to the BNR President or to the BNR Rada Executive Council for review. Approved candidates are confirmed by the BNR Rada Session. In case of exceptional need, the approved candidate may be confirmed by the BNR Rada Executive Council.
- Candidates who have been confirmed by either the BNR Rada Session or by the BNR Rada Executive Council are required to submit in writing within three months the following oath to the BNR President or his/her designate:
“I, a Member of BNR Rada, do solemnly swear before God and the Belarusan people, that I will adhere firmly to the principles expressed in the Act of March 25, pursue its realization, conform to all decisions taken by the BNR Rada and the BNR Rada Executive Council, and will safeguard all secrets of the BNR Rada.”
Only after the submission of this oath in writing, does a candidate become a Member of the BNR Rada (MR). New members also swear a traditional oath at the next Session of the BNR Rada.
- MRs pay membership dues in an amount which has been established by the Session of the BNR Rada.
- MRs are obligated to secrecy regarding decisions so defined. The divulging of such secrets shall be considered by the BNR Rada Court as the divulging of state secrets.
- MRs can be deprived of their membership for actions inconsistent with the Act of March 25, or for actions contrary to BNR Rada decisions, or for divulging of BNR Rada secrets, or for exhibiting other moral or unpatriotic flaws, or for delinquency in paying membership dues for a period of one year. In the latter case, the delinquent MR is given one year after the last end-of-the year notice to clear this delinquency. MRs are obligated to report violations of the Charter or of the oath to the BNR President or to the BNR Rada Executive Council, or to the Sector executive or to the BNR Rada Secretariat.
- MRs can voluntarily terminate their membership through a written resignation to the BNR President.
- An MR whose membership has been terminated by a decision of the BNR Rada Executive Council, may appeal such decision to the BNR Rada Court or to the earliest Session of the BNR Rada.
- The BNR President or the BNR Rada Executive Council can suspend the membership of any MR, as well as of members of BNR Rada subordinate bodies until the convening of the BNR Rada Court or a Session of the BNR Rada.
- The Session of the BNR Rada.
- The Session of BNR Rada is the highest authority in the operation of the BNR Rada. Its prerogatives include the following:
- the adoption and amendments to the Charter of the BNR Rada
- the ratification of treaties
- the development and confirmation of a political course and tactics in foreign relations and within the Belarusan liberation movement
- the adoption of laws, decrees and directives
- the confirmation and termination of BNR Rada membership
- all other matters which are not specifically assigned to other BNR Rada subordinate bodies or to the BNR President.
- The Sessions of BNR Rada shall be convened every two years, or in an emergency more frequently, by the BNR President or in his/her absence by the 1stVice President, or in his/her absence, by the BNR Rada Executive Council directly, or in response to a request of not fewer than 1/5 of the Members of the BNR Rada.
- BNR Rada Sessions are legitimate, if they have been properly convened and MRs have been informed of the date, place and the agenda, not later than one month prior to the Session.
- The BNR Rada Session is presided by a Chairperson, (assisted by) 2 Secretaries and a Member, elected at the Session.. All decisions at the Session are adopted by a simple majority. In the event of a tie vote, the second vote of the BNR President is decisive.
- The balloting at the BNR Rada Session must be secret:
- while electing the BNR President and the BNR Rada Executive Council
- when requested by not fewer than 1/5 of the MRs present at the Session when deciding a particular matter.
All MRs have one vote, with the exception of those MRs who are in possession of written proxies from other MRs, however never more than 5, including their own vote.
- BNR Rada Executive Council.
- The BNR Rada Executive Council is comprised of the BNR President, the 1stVice President and other Vice Presidents, the Secretary, the Treasurer, and (Executive Council) Members. The number of Vice Presidents and Members is determined at the BNR Rada Session and they are elected for a term of 6 years. The composition of the BNR Rada Executive Council can be changed by a vote at a BNR Rada Session when deemed necessary. The meetings of the BNR Rada Executive Council are closed. If deemed necessary, the BNR President may invite advisors and guests to a meeting of the Executive Council. MRs are informed of all decisions adopted at the meetings of the Executive Council. The BNR President has the right to invite new members to join the Executive Council, recognizing, however, that their final confirmation remains the prerogative of the next BNR Rada Session.
- The BNR Rada Executive Council has the following duties:
- to conduct the affairs of the BNR Rada between Sessions,
- to ensure that the decisions taken at the Session are carried out by BNR Rada subordinate bodies,
- to represent the BNR Rada externally,
- to convene the Sessions of the BNR Rada.
- BNR President.
- The BNR President is the head of the BNR Rada.
- The BNR President is the highest representative of the BNR Rada and of the Belarusan nation. The BNR President is elected at the BNR Rada Session for a 6-year term.
- The BNR President appoints the necessary number of members to the BNR Rada Secretariat.
- The BNR President has the following responsibilities:
- to represent the BNR before governments and national representatives of other nations,
- to appoint BNR representatives to deal with governments and representatives of other nations,
- to conduct other matters related to that position that are not specifically assigned to other BNR Rada subordinate bodies.
- In the event that the BNR President cannot perform the assigned duties, those duties shall be performed by the 1st Vice President until the next BNR Rada Session.
- The BNR Rada Sectors.
- Based on a decision of the BNR Rada Executive Council, a Sector of the BNR Rada can be formed in an area where there are three or more MRs.
- A Sector performs the following tasks:
- monitors political developments in its community in a given country, follows the media in matters concerning Belarus, and in cases of importance, informs the BNR Rada Executive Council or reacts appropriately on its own.
- promotes political, civic and cultural activities in its communitiy and country.
- A Sector is governed by its executive body which consists of a Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer. The Sector Chairperson is the Representative of the BNR Rada in his/her community or country. In countries where there is more than one Sector, the BNR President appoints the Representative of the BNR Rada.
- General meetings of the Sector members are held once every two years, depending on the need. Such meetings shall not be held during the two months prior to the BNR Rada Session, and their responsibilities are:
- the approval of the Sector Executive reports,
- the election of its officers,
- the adoption of the budget and the plan of action for the Sector.
- The BNR Rada Secretariat.
- Since the BNR Rada performs the functions of a legislative body and of a government-in-exile, a Secretariat is formed which becomes the executive body of the BNR Rada. The BNR President appoints the Secretariat and assigns it specific duties.
- The BNR Rada Treasury.
- The BNR Rada Treasury is the depository of funds dedicated to BNR Rada activity. The funds come from the following sources:
- BNR Rada membership dues,
- civic donations,
- contributions from Belarusan organizations.
- The BNR Rada Treasurer collects such funds directly, or through the Treasurers of BNR Rada Sectors. The BNR Rada Treasurer is accountable to the BNR Rada both for accurate bookkeeping, as well as for management of the funds. The Treasurer submits financial reports to the BNR Rada Executive Council once a year, and is required to submit a financial report to the BNR Rada Audit Commission not later than one month prior to the BNR Rada Session.
- The BNR Rada Audit.
- The audit of the BNR Rada is conducted by the BNR Rada Audit Commission which is elected at the BNR Rada Session for a six year term It consists of a Chairperson, Secretary and a Member.
- The BNR Rada Audit Commission is responsible to perform an audit of the financial affairs of the BNR Rada and to prepare a report thereon.
- The BNR Rada Court.
- The BNR Rada Court is formed on the basis of Arts. 5 and 10 of this Charter. It consists of a Chairperson and two judges who are elected for a 6-year term at the BNR Rada Session.
- The BNR Rada Court adjudicates matters defined in Arts. 10 and 11 of this Charter, as well as conflicts between MRs. The judgments are based on this Charter.
- In order to protect the rights of MRs and of BNR Rada subordinate bodies, a prosecutor from among MRs is appointed by the BNR President. The prosecutor conducts an investigation and presents the charges before the BNR Rada Court in instances when the matter has been directed to the Court upon the initiative of the BNR President or the BNR Rada Executive Council.
- Each MR, as well any person who has a case before the BNR Rada Court may select a defender from among the MRs.
- Cases can be directed to the BNR Rada Court by the prosecutor, or by the interested parties, or as result of a BNR Rada Executive Council decision.
- An appeal of a BNR Rada Court decision must be made to a BNR Rada Session within one month of such decision.
- The BNR Rada Archive
- The documents of the BNR Rada and of all its subordinate bodies, as well as all its correspondence throughout its activity and existence, are considered the property of the BNR Rada. This pertains to all BNR Rada subordinate bodies, as well as to various private persons who have or have had dealings with the BNR Rada or its subordinate bodies.
- All such documents and correspondence shall be kept in the BNR Rada Archive at a location approved by the BNR Rada Executive Council.
- The BNR Rada subordinate bodies, including the Sectors, may retain copies of materials needed for their work, forwarding all other documents to the BNR Rada Archive.
- Amendments to the Charter.
- This Charter can be amended or expanded at any BNR Rada Session by a 3/4 vote of the Session participants, as long as the proposed change appears in the Session agenda that has been distributed to the BNR Rada members not later than three months prior to the Session. The process of preparing a Charter amendment is initiated and carried out by the BNR Rada Executive Council, with the MRs being informed about it.
- The Ratification of the Charter.
- This Charter becomes effective immediately upon its ratification by the XXIII BNR Rada Session, superceding the previous version of the Charter.
The Chairperson of the XXIII BNR Rada Session Jan Zaprudnik,
Secretatries of the Session : Alla Orsa-Romano, Walter (Viačka) Stankievich
This BNR Rada Charter has been adopted at the XXIII BNR Rada Session held on September 1, 2000 in the Belarusan Center Polacak in Strongsville, State of Ohio, United States of America.
It is based on the Charter which had been prepared and adopted at the XV BNR Rada Session held on 25 November, 1978 in New York City, having been signed by BNR President Vincent Zhuk-Hryshkievich.
With my signature I confirm its consistency with the original BNR Rada Charter and the amendments included therein.