The purpose of the Oxford Belarus Observatory (OBO) is to raise awareness and knowledge of contemporary issues and challenges facing Belarus, including as those relate to the specifics of the COVID-19 pandemic and its enduring consequences. Most specifically, employing the insights unique to Area Studies, OBO will support and promote evidence-based policy-making, knowledge brokering and stakeholder interaction through:
- the comprehensive and rigorous analysis of the impact of and responses to COVID-19 in Belarus;
- the analysis of social, economic, political, cultural and historical issues which shape contemporary Belarus and which can inform external understanding;
- engagement, wherever possible, with domestic stakeholders;
- the production of timely and reliable evidence in response to both real domestic policy needs but also external stakeholder initiatives; and
- the communication of evidence in ways that are useful to, and usable by, policy-makers, national and international civil society, the media and other non-academic stakeholders.
By delivering on this mission, OBO will contribute to the objectives and principles on which the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA) was founded. Namely, the study of regions from interdisciplinary perspectives in the pursuit of a better understanding of global societies. In these endeavours, OSGA’s teaching and research brings together the humanities and social sciences, in fostering an approach that values deep historical and cultural understanding while also drawing on the most contemporary disciplinary methodologies and theories.
This background is reflected in the work of the Observatory, which commits to the following important principles.
- Contemporary Relevance: OBO will speak to the most relevant and prescient social, economic, political, health and civil society challenges and opportunities facing Belarus.
- Objectivity and Impartiality: while OBO is committed to brokering knowledge and furthering understanding, it can only do so to the extent that it remains objective, balanced, and impartial.
- Analytical rigour: OBO will promote knowledge and understanding of contemporary Belarus society and in doing so will draw on established scholarly, scientific processes and practice in order to underscore objectivity and ensure analytical rigour.
- Stakeholder benefit: OBO recognises there are diverse stakeholders, internal and external to Belarus, across and within multiple sectors. OBO will seek to give voice to these stakeholders.