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Stages of Formation and Development of the Civil Institutions of the Society in Uzbekistan
14 November 2014 | Erkin Salikhov

Large scale transformations with the main aim of building a democratic lawful state with a social-oriented market economy and formation of a strong civil society took place after gaining independence in Uzbekistan in 1991.

And in this case the country has chosen its “Uzbek Model of Development” which is carrying out political, economic and social reforms based on the principles such as:
• De-idealogization of economy and its priority over politics;
• Enabling the role of a state as a main reform-maker;
• Maintaining the rule of law;
• Carrying out a strong social policy;
• Having stage by stage and gradual reforms, i.e. rejecting of all types of shocking therapy.

Having set the aim of formation of a strong civil society in Uzbekistan under the term “a civil society” we understand a social space where the rule of law is prevailed, where protecting of the rights, interests and freedom of people is guaranteed, favourable conditions for self-development of individual are created, and realization of his interests in which independent and stable civil institutions function.

The formation of the foundations of a civil society is a long and continuous process entailed certain problems and difficulties. Success of a process largely depends both on the factors of the institutional character (state policy related to the institutes of the civil society, and qualitative indexes of their activities) and on the factors related to people and to social practice used by them personally (the level of knowing the laws, political and legal culture of the citizens and their involvement in the public work, the activity of the civil institutions).
As an institute of a civil society the organs of government (management) of citizens (mahallah), political parties, mass movement, trade unions, public funds, non-government and non-commercial organs, and independent mass media are considered in this report.

As a whole if we have a retrospective analysis of the path Uzbekistan had passed in the formation of institutions of a civil society, as a matter of fact, the content and importance can be divided in the following three stages:

Stage One. The period from 1991 to 2000 is the stage of first-priority reforms, changes of the transition period and the formation of legislative foundations of creating and functioning of various institutions of the civil society.

First, adoption of the principle law of Uzbekistan is the Constitution in which a human being, his life, his freedom, his honour, dignity and others inseparable rights were declared to be highly valuable.

The Constitution secured the rights of the citizens to unite with trade unions, political parties and other public unions, and participate in mass movements. Along with it Article 58 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan reads: “The state guarantees to observe the rights and lawful interests of public organizations, and creates the equal legal possibilities for their participating in public life”. The Constitution secured freedom of mass media and banned censorship.

A number of legislative Acts, regulating the order of creating and functioning public unions, organs of self-governing of citizens, non-government and non-commercial organizations, political parties and Mass Media, had been adopted.

In particular, these laws are “On Public Unions in the Republic of Uzbekistan”(1991), “On Trade Unions, Rights and Guarantees of their Activity” (1992), “On Political Parties” (1996), “On Mass Media” (1997), “On Protecting of Journalists’ Professional Activity ” (1997), “On Guarantees and Free Access to Information” (1997), and “On Non-Governmental and Non-commercial Organizations” (1999).

Adopting of these documents give a powerful push to the development of the institutions of the civil society. If by January 1, 1999 only 95 non-governmental and non-commercial organizations functioned, their number increased to 2585 by January 1, 2000. Among them such public funds such as “Mahallah”, “Nuroniy”, “Soghlom Avlod uchun”, “Ecosan”, “Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan ” and public movement of the youth “Kamolot” and others are supported by a wide range of various layers of the population can be mentioned.

Another example: 291 means of Mass Media had been registered by January 1, 1999 in Uzbekistan while their number reached 562 by January 1, 2000. The share of non-government means of Mass Media in total for that period reached 23%.

As for activities of political parties, after collapsing one party system four officially registered political parties, the representatives of which were presented in national Parliament after national elections’ results, had already been functioning.

In securing and developing of naturally formed and of a traditional institution of self-governing – mahallah in Uzbekistan had adopted a law “On Organs of Self-governing of the Citizens” in 1993 and its improved edition was adopted in 1999. That is, the activity of mahallah, as an effective and enjoying comprehensive self-governing organ supported by people is able to solve vital important and urgent problems of people was maintained by a special adopted law.

Stage Two. The period starting from 2000 to 2010 is characterized by the processes of democratic innovation and modernization of a country, securing of independent functioning of the institutes of the civil society. The main task of the present stage of the reform is a gradual and stage by stage transition from a strong state which was objectively necessary in the condition of the transition period and formation of national statehood to a strong civil society.

In particular, during the stated period a number of normative and legal acts had been adopted and public initiatives directed to further development of institutes of a civil society and secure guarantees of their activity, consolidation of their efforts and resources in solving of the most important socially significant tasks had been carried out.

Thus, the adoption of the Law “On Financing Political Parties” in 2004 was significant for activation of political parties’ activity, strengthening of their organizational potential and material-financial conditions. In accordance with which a national system of financing was created prescribed activity of political parties at the expense of inner resources and state funds.

The adoption of the Constitutional Law “On Enhancement of the Role of Political Parties in Renewal and Further Democratization of State Governing and Modernization of the Country” was a considerable impulse for further development of multiparty system in Uzbekistan as well. As a result of these initiatives interparty struggle and competition was observed not only in the election of deputies but also in electing of the Local Kengashes (Councils) of People’s Deputy in 2009.

Some laws of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On Principles and Guarantees of Freedom of Information” (2002), “On Public Funds” (2003), “On Guarantees of the Activities of Non-government and Non-commercial Organizations” (2007), the Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On Measures of Lending Assistance to the Development of A Civil Society in Uzbekistan ” (2005), directed to strengthening the role and significance of the civil societies in solving urgent social-economic problems of the citizens, providing with freedom of speech and information, were adopted in this period as well.

The next step in supporting the institutes of the civil society was the adoption of a Joint Resolution by the Kengashes (Councils) of the Legislative Chamber of the members of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On Measures of Strengthening of Support NFO and NCOs and other Institutes of the Civil Society ” in 2008.

In accordance with the present resolution a Public Fund was founded under the high legislative organ with the support of Non-government and Non-commercial organizations and other institutes of the civil society as well as a Parliament Commission in managing resources of the fund. The composition of the Parliament Commission is formed out of the deputies of the Legislative Chamber, the representatives of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the representatives of the leading and authoritative Non-government and Non-commercial organizations and other institutes of the civil society as well as the Ministry of Justice and Finance.

It should be noted that during 2008-2013 more than 28 billion soum was allotted from state (public) fund for carrying out various social-economic projects of Non-government and Non-commercial organizations and other institutes of the civil society. The indicated resources were used for supporting the initiatives of the civil society by means of holding grant competitions, allotting subsidy and placing of social orders.

As the result of the measures taken in 2005 the National Association of NGOs of Uzbekistan is successfully functioning in Uzbekistan and its members include more than 400 public organizations. Today, the association has created an effective system of organizational, financial and material support to its members; the work is being carried out to consolidate the efforts of NGOs in the implementation of social projects and programs.

Another NGO which was able to attract public attention , is the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan , founded in 2008 in order to protect the environment, health of people, to increase environmental awareness of nation, natural resource management , public control over the implementation of laws and government decisions on environmental issues and health.

Taking into the consideration the importance of the challenges facing the movement the rule was introduced to the legislation of the republic in 2008 which provides the election of 15 members of the lower house of the parliament from the Ecological Movement.

During this period the measures have also been implemented aimed to the development of non-governmental media, their active participation in the democratization of the information sphere. Particularly, in order to support independent media, to strengthen their material and technical base and their personnel National Association of Electronic Media was founded, which involves more than 100 electronic media, Public Fund for Support and Development of Independent Print Media and News Agencies of Uzbekistan.

The third step, covering the period from 2011 up to the present, characterized by the development of civil society institutions on the background of the implementation of systematic measures under the Concept of further deepening democratic reforms and formation of civil society in the country. Concept was proposed by the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov in November 2010 at the joint session of both chambers of the national parliament to determine the most important priorities of the country's development.

This concept initiated new reforms in all spheres of society, which clearly stated the tasks for the development and adoption of new legal documents, including the ones ensuring greater participation of civil society institutions in the state and public construction.

Today, under the Concept following work has been carried out to further development and strengthening the institutions of civil society:
1. In the new edition two Laws were adopted by the Parliament and signed by the President - "On Local Government of Citizens" and "On the Election of Chairman of Citizens' and his Advisers ."

The first law aimed to improve the function of the organizational principles of self-governmental institution - Mahalla, turning it into the center of the targeted social support of the population, as well as expanding the functions of mahalla system of public control over the activities of the public administration.

At the same time, the Law "On Election of the Chairman of Citizens' and his Advisers," is aimed at further improving the system of elections to the bodies of self-governance, ensuring the election of chairmen and their advisers the most worthy, having a great experience and enjoys the respect and confidence of the population of people, improving transparency in the implementation of rights of citizens to vote and be elected to self-government bodies.

2. The Law "On Environmental Protection" was adopted and submitted to the upper house, the Senate by Lower house of parliament, which will be considered during the next plenary session of the Senate in December, 2013.

The adoption of this law, including strengthening the role of local government agencies, NGOs and other civil society organizations in the implementation of environmental control, respect for human rights of access to environmental information, addressing critical state programs in the field of environment and health.

3. The draft law "On the Openness of Public Authorities and Management", providing organizational and legal mechanisms for the implementation of the constitutional rights of citizens to information, procedures for informing the public about the activities of public authorities and control their decisions.

Since March 2013 in accordance with the Decree of the President of the country for the first time in law enforcement of Uzbekistan held legal experiment on the testing of the project on the basis of the law of public authorities of Bukhara and Samarkand regions.

In the implementation of legal experiment civil society, individuals and legal entities interested in obtaining information on the activities of government agencies are also involved. Summarizing legal experiment and their representation in the lower house of parliament are planned to be held in January, 2014.

4. The draft Law "On Public Control in the Republic of Uzbekistan" has been developed and it is under discussion, it provides the legal mechanism for the implementation of the society, the civil institutions of control over the implementation of legislative acts of public authorities that is to ensure effective feedback of society and the state.

5. The Law "On Social Partnership" is also under discussion, which provides clear demarcation of borders and improvement of the institutional mechanisms of interaction of NGOs with government agencies in the implementation of socio -economic development, humanitarian responses, and protection of rights, freedoms and interests of different segments of the population.

6. The National Action Plan for Human Rights is being developed, which provides measures for the implementation of public monitoring of compliance with the law, especially law enforcement and regulatory authorities in the field of protection of human rights and freedoms, build a culture of human rights in society.

It should be noted that the development of the above laws and regulations carried out by a special commission consisting of experts from relevant ministries and agencies, MPs, experts, research centers, as well as representatives of civil society institutions. Wherein said commission carries out its work with the following requirements:
• Active involvement of the media, non-governmental organizations in the preparation of draft legal acts;
• Critical analysis of the current legislation, a deep study of national and international experience;
• Discussion of draft legal acts of the general public, including through various "round tables" and conferences.

So, in this paper only the Independent Institute for monitoring the formation of civil society during 2011-2013 organized and held over 100 regional and national "round tables" with the participation of about 1,400 representatives of local NGOs, local authorities, the media, political parties and other organizations.

In connection with the above I would like to note that the adoption of the Concept gave strong positive impetus to the dynamic development of civil society, expanding the scope of their participation in the public interest, the process of democratization and modernization of the country.

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