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Guarantees of Access to Information: Uzbekistan’s Experience

... agencies, UNESCO Office in the country, the OSCE Project Coordinator in Uzbekistan. The event was attended by members of the Senate and Legislative Chamber of Uzbekistan’s Oliy Majlis, heads of information services of government bodies, specialists of civil society institutions, representatives of offices of international organizations in the country, experts from Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Estonia, Greece, Finland, as well as mass media. Deputy Chairwoman of Uzbekistan’s Senate ...
Uzbekistan's experience and international best practices in the sphere of civil society development discussed in Tashkent

Studied and Spread: Uzbekistan’s Expertise in Women’s Role in Civil Society Formation, Public Administration
Samarkand has played host to the international conference entitled “The role of women in public administration and the formation of civil society: the practice of Uzbekistan”. Samarkand has played host to the international conference entitled “The role of women in public administration and the formation of civil society: the practice of Uzbekistan”. The forum was organized by the Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan, the Legislative Chamber and Senate of the Oliy Majlis, the Federation Council of Trade...

Uzbekistan's experience and international best practices in the sphere of civil society development discussed in Tashkent
On July 29-30, 2015, Tashkent hosted an international roundtable discussion entitled “Bolstering the role and importance of civil society institutions in democratic renewal and modernization of the country: the experience of Uzbekistan and international practice”. The event was organized by the National Association of Nongovernmental and Nonprofit Organizations (NNOs) of Uzbekistan, the Independent Institute for Monitoring the Formation of Civil Society and the Public Fund under the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as foreign partners – the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Office of OSCE Project Coordinator in Uzbekistan.

The forum was attended by members of the Senate and the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis, the deputies of Jokargy Kenes of Karakalpakstan, Kengashes (Councils) of People’s Deputies of the regions and the city of Tashkent, experts and scholars of educational, research and public organizations, representatives of international and foreign organizations accredited in Uzbekistan, international experts in the field of civil society organizations from Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, South Korea, India, Turkey and other countries, as well as journalists.

The event’s agenda included a detailed deliberation on Uzbekistan’s experience in supporting the advancement of civil society institutions and NNOs in the country, the measures spearheaded to boost their role and importance in nation-building and public affairs, elaboration and implementation of legislation, the crucial state programs designed to shore up socio-political, socio-economic and human development.

The forum participants stressed the effectiveness of the five principles making up the Uzbek Model of Development and the Strategy “From a strong state to a strong civil society” well-known around the world. The Model and the Strategy have allowed for a systematic, gradual and consistent institution of legislative and organizational foundation conducive for the development of independent and sustainable NNOs enjoying popular support, provision for their efficient participation in the endeavors directed at building a democratic state, forming a civil society, securing human rights, freedoms and interests, improving socio-economic activity and uplifting the law culture of the population.

It was emphasized during the roundtable discussion that a framework for regulating the activities of NNOs, comprising more than 200 legislative acts and meeting the latest democratic requirements and international standards, has been created in Uzbekistan on the basis of the Constitution.

As part of measures to secure the independent development of civil society institutions, bolster their role and place in nation-building, provide for a balance of interests in the society, safeguard democratic values, human rights, freedoms and legitimate interests, the laws “On Social Associations in the Republic of Uzbekistan”, “On Labor Unions, Rights and Guarantees of Their Activity”, “On Nongovernmental Nonprofit Organizations”, “On Public Funds”, “On Guarantees of Activity of Nongovernmental Nonprofit Organizations” and a number of other acts of legislation have been passed in Uzbekistan in this area.

A distinctive feature of the Uzbek model of development of civil society is the comprehensive willingness of the state to support public initiatives aimed at boosting the participation of citizens independently and in close cooperation with the government to address current issues pertinent to the national development. In this regard, it was noted that the activities of the Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan, of the funds “Mahalla”, “Soghlom Avlod Uchun”, “Ecosan” and “Nuroniy”, the “Kamolot” Public Youth Movement, the Independent Institute for Monitoring the Formation of Civil Society, the National Association of NNOs of Uzbekistan, the Ecological Movement Uzbekistan and other public organizations deserve special reference.

An important stride toward supporting the civil society institutions was the adoption of the 2008 Joint Resolution of the Kengashes (Councils) of the Legislative Chamber and Senate of Uzbekistan’s Oliy Majlis “On Measures to Bolster the Support for NNOs and Other Civil Society Institutions”. In accordance with the Resolution, at the highest legislative body created by public funds, as well as the Parliamentary Commission for its management of funds as part of parliamentarians, representatives of NNOs, as well as the Ministries of Justice and Finance. These measures form a unique and efficient system of democratic, transparent, open and targeted distribution of funds allocated from the state budget to support the institutions of civil society in the form of grants, subsidies and social orders.

Over the period of functioning of the Fund more than 45 billion soums from the state budget directed at funding projects and programs of NNOs. The volume of investments into development of NNOs increased from 4 billion soums in 2009 up to 10 billion soums in 2015 (an increase of 2.5 times). More than 2.5 thousand public and socially significant projects and programs of NNOs participated in the competitions of the Fund.

The Concept of further deepening democratic reforms and formation of civil society in the country, adopted by the Parliament in 2010, has given a powerful impetus to activization of NNOs, expansion of their activities and responsibilities in the management of state and public affairs. In the framework of practical implementation of the Concept the laws "On environmental control", "On transparency of activity of bodies of state power and control" and "On social partnership" adopted.

In accordance with the Law "On social partnership", introduced a streamlined system of forms, principles, mechanisms of interaction between authorities and civil society institutions, NNOs, as well as the rights and obligations of the parties. The law builds up mutual relations between the authorities and civil society to a qualitatively new level, supposing a partnership, that is the recognition of the parties such partnership as equitable parties, which realize a joint activity on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect for the benefit of the whole country.

The President Decree "On additional measures to assist the development of civil society", adopted in 2013, gave special dynamics to the processes of development of civil society institutions. In accordance with the Decree from January 1, 2014 rates of state fees, charged for state registration of NNOs, reduced 5 times, the fees, charged for state registration of their logo - 2.5 times. Registration of representative offices and branches of NNOs in the regions carried out on free basis.

Additional benefit is set for public associations of the disabled people, veterans, women and young people - the fee for registration of relevant NNOs will be charged at a rate of 50% approved by this Decree. According to it, term of consideration of the application for state registration of NNOs without the right of the registration authority for its renewal reduced 2-fold, as well as a list of documents submitted by NNOs in this regard.

From year to year the contribution of NNOs to implementation of major state social and economic programs, including the program "Year of attention and care for the senior generation", the program of job creation and providing employment for population, the program for further strengthening of reproductive health, maternal health, children and teenagers in Uzbekistan for 2014-2018, the program of action for the protection of environment of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2013-2017 and others.

Leaders and activists of NNOs are members of more than 40 permanent national inter-ministerial committees, councils, working groups, which created in accordance with the acts of the President, the Government and the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan.

Since 2013, the Cabinet of Ministers with the active participation of NNOs on annual basis developed and implemented joint plans and programs for the development of civil society institutions. In 2013, in the framework of joint events, measures taken to improve the information and organizational activities of NNOs, in 2014 the events aimed at improving their social and socio-economic activity, in 2015 Complex plan of activities of the Cabinet of Ministers aimed at strengthening social partnership between the government and NNOs.

In general, measures to improve the institutional and legal framework of activities of civil society, which implemented in the country, reflected both in quantitative and qualitative indicators of development.

If in 1991 only 95 NNOs functioned in the country, by 2000 their number has increased to 2585 units, from 2000 to 2010 the number of NNOs has increased more than 2 times and reached the level of 5431 units. Over the past four years, a similar increase recorded and as of January 1, 2015, the number of NNOs in Uzbekistan has reached a point of 8190 units.

As participants of the forum emphasized - reforms in the formation and development of civil society in Uzbekistan meet modern trends, as in developed democratic countries, level of development of national statehood, processes of democratization and liberalization of society, which are consistently developing, growing level of socio-political and socio-economic activeness of citizens and by its content directed at strengthening the legal mechanisms of providing human rights and interests, as well as democracy in the society.

At all stages of democratic reforms and rule-making, Uzbekistan proceeded from interests of society and citizen, mentality and national traditions of people, paying particular attention to a deep study of international experience which has proven itself.

Roundtable participants discussed in detail the issues of social control, the adoption of the Law "On amendments and additions to certain articles of the Constitution (Articles 32, 78, 93, 98, 103 and 117)" in 2014, according to which public control is defined as a means of citizen participation in the affairs of state and society, as well as the content of the draft law "On public control in the Republic of Uzbekistan".

Experts pointed out that the adoption of the Law will contribute to the creation of the systematic effective legal mechanism to monitor the implementation of legislative acts by public authorities and management from the side of society, civil institutions. The draft law defines the types, forms and subjects of social control, the subject of control and legal mechanisms for its implementation and the conditions of responsibility of officials for the non-fulfillment of the legislation in this area.

In the course of the event, they elaborated recommendations on further improvement of the mechanisms for cooperation between government bodies and NNOs, promoting the participation of the population in matters of socio-economic development of the territories, possible introduction of mechanisms to encourage and promote public and social activities of citizens and NNOs, organization of business activities of NNOs, formation of complex infrastructure, training and skills development for NGO sector, use of universal criteria to determine the ranking of public organizations.

Program of roundtable included visits to the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis and the Independent institute for monitoring the formation of civil society, familiarization with the work of the Committee of the lower house of parliament for Democratic Institutions, NNOs and Civil Society, Public Fund for Support of NNOs and other civil society institutions, Parliamentary Commission for management of its funds, Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, Women's Committee of Uzbekistan, the Fund "Mahalla" and public youth movement "Kamolot".

Foreign participants of the conference gave an interview for national media, in which they have shared their views on the formation and activities of civil society institutions in Uzbekistan.

Eckhard Priller, Researcher of the Berlin Science Centre for Social Research (Germany):

- Uzbekistan's experience in enhancing the role and importance of civil society institutions in renewal and modernization of the country is very important for the world community. The country is on its own way of achieving success in all areas of state and society.

As you know, Germany is one of the countries where the NNOs carry a wide activity. In particular, environmental movement, which created by citizens for the promotion of environmental issues at the state level, functions in Germany. We see that there is environmental movement in Uzbekistan too, which carries out systematic work to strengthen the environmental awareness of the population.

In general, civil society is a space for social initiatives and innovations. Along with support from the state, so-called "bottom-up initiatives" play important role, i.e. initiatives coming from citizens themselves. In this regard, self-government bodies are of great importance.
Pierre Borgolts, NGO Advisor of EU Logos Athena (Belgium):

- I am impressed with the progress in building a strong civil society made by Uzbekistan over the years of independence.

Increased activity of non-government organizations is an important condition for the development of the civil sector. If we look at the history of Europe, we can see that civil institutions played important role in the process of socio-political and socio-economic development.

Today, your country pays great attention to the development of NNOs, introducing new mechanisms of state support for NNOs, as a result their role and importance in society is increasing. It can be seen in the activities of trade unions, women's and youth organizations, groups of veterans and invalids, citizens' assemblies, scientific-technical, cultural and educational institutions, working closely with the authorities in addressing socio-economic issues.

It is encouraging that the country does not stop on its achievements and continues to improve its legislation, taking into account the existing realities and global best practices. In this regard, exchange of views and experiences is important. Events like today's roundtable serve to this purpose.

Celine Martan, Director of NGO "Local Mission "Northeast 77" (France):
- This is my first visit to Uzbekistan and I am very pleased to take part in such a representative forum. Within its framework, I had the opportunity not only to share the French experience in the development of civil society, but also to be acquainted with the successes of your country in this direction.

The effective functioning of the National Association of NNOs of Uzbekistan, the Independent Institute for monitoring formation of civil society made special impression on me.

We intend to cooperate with these structures and to develop joint projects.

Despite the short period of stay, Uzbekistan made a lasting impression on me. In the future, I plan to visit the country again for a more detailed acquaintance with its history and modern development.

María Botarell Tranquilli-Leali, General secretary of the Italian branch of the organization "European Women Lobby" (Italy):

- I am familiar with Uzbekistan. During my visit to the republic, I became a witness to its dynamic socio-economic development, changing the face of towns and villages. Gradual reforms, implemented in the country, also impressed me. These reforms aimed at enhancing civil society participation in the political life of the country.

The work of a unique institution "Mahalla" is of particular interest, which is not only the foundation of a civil society, but also a great school for democracy. "Mahalla" make a significant contribution to the education of youth in the spirit of democracy and the rule of law, to the preservation and enhancement of both the spiritual and cultural values of the nation, society and the modernization of the country as a whole. In addition, the Institute is also an important mechanism for ensuring social inclusion. Currently, our organization conducts work on familiarization of the European public with the experience of Uzbekistan in this direction.

Song Yong Hak, Professor at the Institute for the Study of CIS and Russia of Koryo University:

- Within the framework of this conference, I shared the experience of the Republic of Korea in the field of civil society development. In particular, Special committee under the government of South Korea operates in our country. Its activity dedicated to support non-profit organizations.

It was gratifying to learn that in the parliament of Uzbekistan operates a separate fund to support non-profit organizations, as well as special association of all major NNOs of the country. Effective experience of these structures has caused me a lot of interest and after returning home, I will share received information with my colleagues.

Concept of further deepening democratic reforms and formation of civil society in the country has expanded range of activities and responsibilities of NNOs even more. The laws "On Environmental Control", "On the openness of public authorities and management", "On social partnership", adopted within the framework of the Concept, will allow to increase the activity of NNOs in the implementation of environmental monitoring, informing the public about the activities of state bodies, to strengthen cooperation organizations of all kinds.

Ajay Kumar, Director of Russian and Central Asian Studies, School of International Studies, University named after Jawaharlal Nehru (India):

- This is not my first visit to Uzbekistan - I have repeatedly visited your country in the framework of cooperation in the sphere of civil society.

The current visit and the progress in its meetings and activities, in particular, today's round table, allowed me to get the detailed information about partnership between civil society and public authorities in the process of socio-political and socio-economic development of Uzbekistan.

Today Uzbekistan has created favorable conditions for the development of NNOs - procedures for their registration simplified, there is a strong state support in the implementation of social projects, benefits in the field of taxation and other features granted. Qualitative monitoring of the implementation of social programs in the field implemented. Therefore, as we see, civil society in the country is actively developing.

We hope that this trend will continue, and international cooperation of Uzbekistan in this area will continue to expand.

Information Agency "Jahon", Tashkent

Tashkent hosted round table on ICT development


In the metropolitan International Business Center held a round table on "The role of modern information and communication technologies in the modernization of public administration and democratization of society".
Deputies of the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis, managers and employees of state power and administration, foreign ICT experts, representatives of NGOs, civil society, the media and others attended it.
The event noted that systematic and deeply thought-out state policy in the information field has enabled Uzbekistan to make significant progress in the formulation and development of national information space, freedom of expression and information, the introduction of modern ICT in all areas of life.
The participants of round table discussed the effective use of ICT in public administration, further improving the legal framework in this area, expanding of provided interactive services, protection of citizens' personal data on the Internet and others.
As a result of measures final conclusions, practical suggestions and recommendations adopted.
Broad participation of national experts together with foreign experts in the field of information technologies from the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, Australia, Latvia and Georgia has allowed to discuss the international experience of development of informatization processes in different countries, to assess the prospects for its use in Uzbekistan.
Some international experts shared their views on the measures taken in Uzbekistan on the development of e-government and expansion of provided interactive services.
President for business consulting and networking of company Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (China) Paul Michael Scanlan:
- Systematic and well thought-out policy has allowed your country to make significant progress in the formulation and development of national information space, introducing modern ICT into public administration and business. Today Uzbekistan has a unique chance to create an effective IT-industry, which for a short period of time can be a catalyst for economic development and an attractive market for foreign investment.
For more than 15 years our company successfully cooperating with the Uzbek partners, and we look forward to the further expansion of fruitful cooperation.
"Electronic Business" program Director at Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration Ina Gudele (Latvia):
- Over the past few years I've been following regularly the development of governmental sites of Uzbekistan and I should note that they are constantly improving in functional terms, they are regularly updated.
In my opinion, providing online access to the databases of central government agencies demonstrates the commitment of your country to the innovative approach to the modernization of public administration and the democratic renewal of society.

Information agency «Jahon»

Tashkent hosted round table on how to reach out officials and public about new laws, Uzbekistan’s and international best practices discussed


On June 24 2015, Tashkent hosted an international round table on topic "International experience of reaching out adopted laws to officials and public: legal regulation and practical aspects".
The event was organized by the General Prosecutor's Office jointly with the Senate and the Legislative chamber of Oliy Majlis, Ministry of Justice, the Institute for monitoring of current legislation under the President, the Tashkent State Law University and the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Round table has been organized in cooperation with the UNDP, the Office of the OSCE Project Coordinator in Uzbekistan.
The international forum has been attended by deputies of the Legislative Chamber and senators of Oliy Majlis, senior officials of the General Prosecutor's Office, ministries and departments, experts of foreign countries and authoritative international organizations, representatives of the General Prosecutor's Office of Azerbaijan, Vietnam, China, Latvia, Poland and others.
During the round table noted that the ongoing reforms in the country in all spheres of society are impossible without the active legislative work. The laws are, in fact, the foundation and the main driving force of social and economic development and deepening of democratic reforms and building civil society.
Participants stressed that the effectiveness of any law primarily depends on timeliness of bringing it to the public and the direct executors, as well as on correct and full comprehension of its requirements by the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
As the speakers noted, one of the most important tasks in ensuring the democratic reforms and formation of civil society is to conduct extensive work on the clarification of content and substance of law among the public and artists.
Uzbek side presented the experience of the republic in this direction. In particular, they said that Uzbekistan is working hard to implement a unified state policy in the sphere of application of law.
It was emphasized that the theme of round table is in tune with the this year's speech of the President of Uzbekistan at the joint session of both chambers of the Oliy Majlis, where the Head of State reiterated importance and relevance of raising the level of legal culture of the population and strengthening the rule of law.
Over the past years, the country has adopted the laws "On the guarantees and freedom of access to information", "On mass media", "On normative legal acts" (revised), "On transparency of activity of bodies of state power and control". Government of the Republic approved the procedure for dissemination of legal acts, according to which implemented a system of mandatory publication of their projects on the websites of ministries and departments.
General Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Uzbekistan and other agencies conducted wide explanatory work among the population, carried out active propaganda of legislation, judicial and law enforcement authorities strenuously interact with the media and civil society organizations.
In particular, a Program of measures adopted by the Prosecutor General's Office in this direction in the framework of functioning of the interdepartmental working group on improving the procedures and practices of bringing the laws and other legal acts to executing officers and public in the system of courts and law enforcement agencies.
Along with this, the measures implemented to expand the use of information and communication technologies in pursuing these aims.
In order to inform the public timely the portal has been organized by the Ministry of Justice, which in online regime provides easy access to legal and other acts of legislation in electronic form.
Ministry of development of information technology and communications together with the involved agencies continues to implement a package of measures to create a single government portal, which will further enhance the capabilities of government agencies on legal propaganda.
Event emphasized that in Uzbekistan involved a wide range of government agencies, non-governmental organizations, scientific and educational institutions, which allow reaching out quickly and timely the adopted laws to all interested persons and bodies that provides timely familiarization with their requirements.
International participants of the event noted that the expansion and strengthening of the rule of law is a key priority at all stages of development of Uzbekistan. In this regard, study of the processes of raising awareness of all interested parties on adopted and draft laws is very topical today. They emphasized the importance of harmonization of activity of legislation bodies with international standards.
This round table became another step towards consolidating the efforts of not only the ministries and departments of Uzbekistan, but also the international community on the way of further improvement of legal culture and competence. It allowed representatives of different countries to discuss the existing problems, to explore the best practices, to consider the most relevant and urgent issues, to outline ways to solve them.
Between the sessions, the correspondent of Information agency "Jahon" talked to some of its participants.
Elita Jurkjane, Chief prosecutor of the Department of methodical analysis of activity and guidance of the General Prosecutor's Office (Latvia):
- We are pleased to participate in such topical and important event as today's round table. We are pleased that Uzbekistan has shown interest in Latvia's experience in bringing the legislation to the public and executors, as well as legislative activities that we have presented today. It is also very useful that in the framework of this event, we were also able to get acquainted with the practice of other countries in this sphere.
Until recently for Latvia, issues of informing the public on adopted laws, their perception and performance were a matter of topical interest. Now the system has been established and is working - that is the publication of legal acts in the press, on the Internet, as well as such an important instrument as annotations to every law.
Gutierrez Alonso Juan Jose, Professor of Administrative Law at the University of Granada (Spain):
- This is my third visit to Uzbekistan. This time I have the honor to take part in the international round table, devoted to the issues of legal regulation of the process of bringing the adopted laws to executive officers and public, and to make a report.
Today Uzbekistan is conducting wide-ranging reforms aimed at building a democratic state, the rule of law and compliance with it. In implementing the reforms republic, while taking into account national specificities, is also exploring international best practices.
Note that in Europe, in particular, in Spain issues of raising public awareness of the adopted legal acts and control over their implementation are essential. For this purpose, before the adoption of certain laws the population is introduced in advance to information about them through a variety of media - TV, radio, Internet and press. To be exact, well-informed public can create a strong civil society and the legal state.
Rachelle Cohen, Editor of the newspaper Boston Herald (USA):
- The best way to bring laws and regulations to the public - is to introduce to the draft laws on the stage of their development, prior to its adoption. That is, a mechanism called a public hearing, and the media play a huge role in it by organizing a political dialogue on developing legislation.
In the United States, in this context, the media perform two functions - one is aimed at informing about the law, its essence and content, and the other presents public opinion, positive or critical evaluation of the documents or their provisions.
I think it is very useful when not only the law is studied, but also people's opinions on how it will work, on its effectiveness.
My presentation at today's event reports on what should have been done in order to get the public briefed on the adopted laws. I would be glad if our experience will attract attention, as it undoubtedly contributes to public confidence in the system of state power and administration.
Kim Yong Chan, Expert on legislation and judiciary of Research service of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea:
- An important factor in the modernization process of country and building a strong civil society is to bring the essence and content of legislation to executors and public. At the same time, along with the adoption of legislative acts by bicameral Parliament the necessity of interpretation of their content for the public and appropriate propagandistic work has been arisen.
Today, one of the urgent tasks is to improve legal awareness and culture of the population, public awareness of the legal basis of the implemented reforms in Uzbekistan.
In this area, your country has achieved definite progress, which we were able to familiarize with. Along with this, I have presented to the participants' attention a report on the experience of the Republic of Korea in the area of legislative enforcement.
It is gratifying that our countries carry out consistent work on providing the general public in the process of adoption and implementation of legal acts, increasing the political and legal culture of citizens.

IA "Jahon"