Uzbekistan stands on the threshold of one of its main holiday, Constitution Day. Adopted on December 8, 1992, the Fundamental Law has become a striking symbol of Uzbekistan’s independence, and a safe foundation for building a democratic state with a market economy and civil society.
The life of the Uzbek people over the years clearly confirms the huge potential of the Constitution of Uzbekistan, a deep forethought and vitality of its principles, regulations and norms.
In a short period, Uzbekistan has turned into a steadily developing country with a modern diversified economy that ensures the growth of welfare and quality of life, as well as sustainable progress towards democratic renewal.
Ideas and goals of the Basic Law have built an effective legal and regulatory framework, as well as the well considered long-term program of reformation, democratization and liberalization of the society, radical structural reforms and modernization of the country, which was recognized worldwide as the ‘Uzbek development model’ of five famous principles.
Over the years of independence, despite the enormous challenges that had to be overcome, Uzbekistan's economy has grown five times, income the per capita by 8.7 times, while the country’s population has grown 1.5 times. Uzbekistan ranks among the few countries in the world to maintain an annual GDP growth rate at more than 8% for the past decade, despite the ongoing global financial and economic crisis.
The ideas and specific provisions of the Basic Law have contributed in de-ideologization of the economy, ensured the rule of law, phased implementation of democratic reforms, and a strong country-specific social policy.
ACTS THAT DETERMINE THE FUTURE
Democratization and liberalization, the construction of a fundamentally new state is not a one-time, but a long and continuous process, which is not bound by timeframe.
The government of Uzbekistan does not stop at what has been achieved, and is constantly seeking for new, higher levels.
This also applies to the process of constitutional development. In this context, the joint session of the Oliy Majlis approved the long-term ‘Concept of enhancing democratic reforms and building civil society in the country’ in November 2010. 27 laws and dozens of legal acts have been already adopted under the Concept.
The policy document has paved the way for a huge legislative work on enhancement of democratic reforms on the basis of the constitutional principle of separation of powers. As a result, in 2011 and 2014, the Basic Law was amended and revised to ensure the further enhancement of democratic reforms and formation of civil society, democratization of state power and administration, more balanced distribution of powers among the three powers: the President as the state’s leader, legislative and executive authorities, as well as strengthening the role and influence of political parties in the implementation of socio-economic, socio-political reforms, renewal and modernization of the country.
The amendments and the entailed laws have ensured a phased implementation of the principle ‘from a strong state towards a strong civil society’, the expansion of the role of two chambers of the Oliy Majlis in the system of state authorities, their rights and responsibilities in the implementation of strategic objectives of domestic and foreign policy, strengthened the functions of the supreme legislative body, the representative bodies that supervise the activity of the Cabinet of Ministers and executive structures, as well as strengthened the responsibility of the government and local executive authorities for the implementation of social and economic objectives of the country’s development.
This suggests that the Basic Law and the ‘Concept of enhancing democratic reforms and building the civil society in the country' are determinant for the future of Uzbekistan.Many developed democracies avoid overloading the Basic Law with specifics. Our young state has always been seeking for the ways of civilized reformation of the society, the further enhancement of democracy, renewal and improvement. Constitutional reforms are also underway.
UZBEK ‘BILL OF RIGHTS’
The Constitution of Uzbekistan lawfully assigns a dominant place to sections on the rights and freedoms of citizens, protection of their interests, and defines the mechanisms to ensure their implementation. The Basic Law declared a person, his life, freedom, honor, dignity and other rights as the ultimate value.
The International Conference on ‘Provision of the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms as the Main Thrust of Democratic Renewal and Modernization of the Country: Experience of Uzbekistan’ on the threshold of the Constitution Day in Tashkent is very relevant in this context.
The conference has brought together the representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, experts from the UK, Italy, Spain and other countries, members of the Senate and the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis, representatives of the diplomatic corps and civil society institutions.
As emphasized at the forum, Uzbekistan has defined the protection of human rights and interests as a top priority of domestic and foreign policy, public construction and society development, and in certain points the country has been a model for many countries.
Based on the provisions and principles of the Constitution, Uzbekistan has built an effective
legislative foundation. All the transformations are based on the principle ‘Reforms for the sake of people, and not for the sake of reforms’. As figuratively noted by one of the conference participants, the second part of our Basic Law represents an Uzbek ‘Bill on Human Rights’.
The participants pointed out to the large-scale work over the recent years on the further democratization and liberalization of the state authority, ensuring freedom of speech and information, streamlining of the electoral system, strengthening the role of civil society institutions. There is a noticeable progress in the political rights of citizens, which ensure their participation in public and state management.
In particular, the modernization of the electoral legislation has significantly strengthened the right of citizens to freedom of choice, and streamlined the pre-election campaign. The recent parliamentary and presidential elections in Uzbekistan have demonstrated its effectiveness, and high socio-political activity of Uzbek citizens.
The constitutionally empowered institution of public control over the activity of state authorities, and its development in the country’s legislation has expanded the opportunities for citizens to implement their right to be involved in social and public management, noted the participants of the forum. The laws ‘On Social Partnership’ and ‘On Environmental Control’ have created a legal platform for free participation of people in addressing major social and economic problems. Today, no bill is approved without discussion in the public and among civil society institutions, whose role in the society has been stably increasing.
Uzbekistan has acceded to more than 70 international human rights instruments, ratified ten basic UN documents, and has been consistently fulfilling its obligation to respect and protect human rights and freedoms. Much attention has been paid to monitoring the implementation of ratified international conventions in the field, and strengthening parliamentary control over this work. International experts noted that phased reforms on raising the legal status of the Parliament have been strengthening its role in the society, streamlining the acts it approves, and promoting active use of its powers of parliamentary control over the executive authorities.
Speaking at the forum, international experts highly commended the role of national institutions on protection of human rights and freedoms – the Human Rights Commissioner of the Oliy Majlis (Ombudsman), the National Center for Human Rights, the Institute of Monitoring the Current Legislation under the President of Uzbekistan – in ensuring the rule of law, and monitoring the compliance of human rights legislation.
Civil institutions and non-profit organizations have been playing an important role in the protection of democratic values, human rights, freedoms and legitimate interests and raising political and civic activity of people. Uzbekistan has created broad opportunities for their development, and active involvement of citizens in achievement of important social and economic objectives. As stipulated by the Constitution, the government enforces the rights and legitimate interests of public associations, and provides them with equal legal opportunities for participation in the public life. More than 250 laws have been adopted in line with this principle, and today they provide the legal foundation for building civil society in Uzbekistan.
Recent regulations have simplified the procedure of registration and establishment of NGOs, streamlined the organizational and legal basis of operation of self-government bodies. As a result, the number of NGOs has exceeded 8,200. Over 10,000 self-government bodies have been making a significant contribution to the development and implementation of democratic reforms in the field.
Being an important civil society institution, the media has been dynamically evolving. Adopted in 2014, the law on transparent activity of state power and administration has provided the ground for better provision of constitutional rights in information sector, as well as increased responsibility of public authorities and administration for the quality of decisionmaking.
As emphasized at the international forum, Uzbekistan has been attaching great importance to the provision of economic, social and cultural rights of citizens. A dynamic and balanced development of all sectors of the economy has created a strong foundation for sustained improvement of quality of life, and satisfaction of urgent needs. The whole range of legislative acts and ongoing national programs is aimed at the development of the constitutional right of the inviolability and freedom of private property. The work has resulted in a significant increase in economic activity of citizens.
Human rights and freedoms are obviously provided in the conditions of peace, tranquility, and civil consent. Uzbekistan has created equal terms for all nationalities to develop their language and culture.
RESPECT FOR THE ELDERLY
Elderly people have been revered in the East from ancient times. In our country, the respect for the elders has been the basis of upbringing of the youth, consent and mutual respect in the society. The Constitution says that everyone has the right to social security in old age.
Announcement of 2015 as the Year of Attention and Care for the Senior Generation is another expression of genuine concern for veterans. The national program has invested more than 2 trillion soums in the provision of comprehensive support and strengthening of social protection of elder people. A wide range of measures is annually aimed at improving health of the elderly, enhancing their welfare and living conditions.
Today, there are nearly 3 million people aged above 60 years, over 200,000 are over 80, and about 9,000 people have celebrated the centenary. They are provided with material, medical and moral support.
Under the program, veterans are covered with a thorough medical examination. They are provided with free treatment of health resorts. Hearing aids and wheelchairs are supplied to those in need of them. Lonely elderly, pensioners and people with disabilities are provided with foods, medicines, they are assisted in the repair of their houses and in payment of public utilities.
Veterans are offered excursions to the sights of the country under the motto ‘No one is ignored’. Communication clubs for the elderly have been established in venues of public festivities under local communities. The noble work in citizens’s assemblies aims at lavishing attention and care on the older people.
As of September 1, the lonely elderly people have been monthly provided with free sets of food and personal care products. The approved product list includes 15 items. Since January, 2016, the social assistance to the lonely elderly and people with disabilities in need of constant care will be provided on the basis of individual programs of social services.
Today, veterans are well provided and surrounded with care owing to the constitutionally guaranteed rights. The elderly do not leave a favor unanswered in response to the warm attitude and care. Having passed a complicated, but glorious path in life, they generously share their professional and life experience, motivating young people for good and constructive deeds.
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HAPPINESS
A journey into the world of the Constitution implies some fun, but it is long. Covering all aspects of our life, 128 articles are a kind of encyclopedia of people’s happiness, because each article is backed by already implemented specific and large-scale actions.
For example, Article 41 stipulates the right to education. It is primarily associated with unique and unprecedented National Staff Training Program, which is known among foreign experts as the ‘Uzbek model of education’. Ambitious goals in this sector have been achieved in the shortest terms and in the conditions of severe shortage of funds. The program has incorporated the principle of the world's most advanced educational strategy of life-long education, and has become a key pillar in a qualitative leap forward in the socio-economic development of Uzbekistan in the new century. Coupled with the right to health and social protection, social sector is annually funded by 60% of the National Budget.
The right to work is another fundamental right. In this context, the issues of job creation and employment ranks among the top priorities of socio-economic development of the country, as proved by the Job Creation and Employment Program, which is annually approved by the parliament.
Article 63 stipulates ‘the family as the basic unit of society and is subect to the protection of society and the state’. The Uzbek people revere the children, the family hearth, lavish love and care on child, trying to grow them guided by the ideas of morality and spirituality. As noted in the book ‘High spirituality is invincible force’, once there is life in this bright world, then there is a family. Once there is a family, there is a child as a God’s gift. Once there is a child, a person is filled with good thoughts and aspirations.
Article 49 states that cultural monuments are protected by the state. There are more than 8,000 registered objects of cultural heritage in Uzbekistan. The amount of funds the National Budget allocates for their protection, repair and restoration has been growing year by year. More than 10 billion soums has been allocated this year for this purpose.
The journey may be very long. Everyone can actually go for it by himself. Article 48 of the
Basic Law says that citizens must observe the Constitution, but to do so, they must have a good knowledge of it.