The Ambassador of Uzbekistan, Mr Otabek Akbarov, celebrates the 20th Anniversary of his country’s Constitution, which reflects centuries of experience and spiritual values and the rich legal heritage of the Uzbek people.
Since the early years of independence, Uzbekistan has implemented large-scale reforms in order to build a democratic state with a socially oriented market economy and a strong civil society. Adopted 20 years ago on 8 December 1992, the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan – in which a human being, his/her life, freedom, honour, dignity and other inalienable rights were declared as the highest value – became the solid legal foundation for achieving these goals.
The Constitution was established on five principles of the «Uzbek model» of development, elaborated by the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, which prioritises economics over politics, state as the main reformer, rule of law, strong social policy, and gradual and evolutionary reforms.
A document of great historical significance, the Constitution reflects centuries of experience and spiritual values and the rich legal heritage of the Uzbek people. It comprises the most well-advanced practices of constitutional construction of many democratic countries. Before being adopted, draft versions were examined by leading social, legal and linguistic experts.
The adoption of the Constitution laid the foundation for creating a comprehensive legal system in Uzbekistan, and provided the means for the country’s Parliament to adopt 15 codes, over 600 laws, and ratify more than 200 multilateral international treaties.
Today, Uzbekistan has a stable and dynamically developing political system, with a bicameral parliament. Conditions have been established which ensure the free and active participation of citizens, political parties and other civil society institutions in the implementation of the most important tasks of social, economic, political and legal development of the state.
Reforms in Uzbekistan have a systematic and consistent character. The President developed ‘The Concept of Further Deepening Democratic Reforms and Formation of Civil Society’ (November 2010), which represents a strategy of logical continuation of democratic reforms in the framework of the Constitution.
Accordingly, in March 2011 the Law ‘On Introduction of Changes and Amendments to some Articles of the Constitution of Uzbekistan (Articles 78, 80, 93, 96 and 98)’ was adopted. The Law aims at further democratisation of state power and management, ensuring a more balanced distribution of powers between three subjects of the state authority: the President (head of state), Legislative and Executive branches. A part of the President’s authority was transferred to the Senate, while the Prime Minister’s powers were strengthened.
In Uzbekistan, according to the principle ‘From a Strong State to a Strong Civil Society,’ an advanced election system has been established. Regular multi-party elections clearly demonstrate the implementation of the citizens’ right to vote, as well as contributing to the growth of their social and political activity.
Radical reforms have been implemented to liberalise the legal system. The independence of the Judiciary and specialisation of courts were confirmed, the Institution of Appeal was reformed, the Appellate Procedure for reviewing cases and the Institution of Reconciliation were introduced, and the equality of all sides at all stages of the legal process was guaranteed. From 1 January 2008 the death penalty was abolished in Uzbekistan. The courts were also empowered to issue sanctions for arrest (institute of ‘Habeas Corpus’).
Uzbekistan has accumulated significant experience in the field of human rights. Based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a system of national institutions was created that promotes the rule of law, and the protection of personal, political, economic, social and cultural rights of citizens. A system of continuous education on human rights and the improvement of the legal culture of the population was established.
Another important component of reforms is the formation of an open civil society. Today there are over 6,000 NGOs operating in Uzbekistan in various spheres of life. They enjoy significant state support in the form of subsidies, grants and social orders.
A comprehensive framework is being set-up for the gradual democratic reform of the information sector. This is designed to formalise citizens’ constitutional right to the freedom of thought, expression and belief. Integral to this process is ensuring the transparency of reforms, openness of authority bodies, and strengthening the independence and economic self-sufficiency of the mass media. In the past ten years the number of print media outlets in the country has increased 1.5 times – today there are over 1,200 in Uzbekistan, most of which are privately owned.
The Constitution also established solid foundations for dynamic and sustainable development of the national economy, as the basis for continuous improvement for the Uzbek people’s welfare. Despite the global financial crisis, Uzbekistan’s GDP grew at was an average of 8.2 per cent. The country has a strong, competitive, socially oriented market economy. The rapidly growing small business and private entrepreneurship sectors now contribute over 54 per cent to GDP. New companies producing goods demanded by domestic and foreign markets are emerging, new jobs are being created, and the income of the population is increasing.
One of Uzbekistan’s major achievements during independence is the preservation and strengthening of an environment of peace and stability, as well as interethnic and interreligious harmony. This is the direct result of the constitutional principle of ‘Respecting Languages, Customs and Traditions of all Nations and Nationalities Living in the Country.’ Today, over 130 nationalities live peacefully together in Uzbekistan.
The Constitution of Uzbekistan embodies a new, progressive constitutional model. It creates all the necessary conditions for the evolutionary legal development of state and society, and their effective interaction in order to increase the efficiency of democratic reforms.