To­ward a Ro­bust Civil So­ci­ety

Said-Ab­du­laziz Yusupov, di­rec­tor of the Pub­lic Fund for Sup­port and De­vel­op­ment of In­de­pen­dent Print Me­dia and News Agen­cies.

Uzbekistan Today (English) - - FRONT PAGE -

A demo­cratic con­sti­tu­tional state (ruled by law) can hardly be imag­ined with­out civil so­ci­ety in­sti­tu­tions. It is no ac­ci­dent that Uzbek­istan has cho­sen the path of demo­cratic re­newal, of an en­dur­ing civil so­ci­ety.

Pres­i­dent Shavkat Mirziy­oyev con­stantly notes the firm com­mit­ment of our coun­try to the ad­vance­ment of civil so­ci­ety, con­struc­tion of a truly demo­cratic con­sti­tu­tional state.

The nor­ma­tive ba­sis for the ac­tiv­i­ties of civil so­ci­ety in­sti­tu­tions in our coun­try is spec­i­fied in the laws on pub­lic as­so­ci­a­tions, on non-state non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, on pub­lic funds, on po­lit­i­cal par­ties and oth­ers. The Con­sti­tu­tion of the Repub­lic es­tab­lishes the le­gal foun­da­tions for the cre­ation and op­er­a­tion of civil so­ci­ety in­sti­tu­tions, de­fines the prin­ci­ples for their in­ter­ac­tion with the state. This cir­cum­stance opens fa­vor­able con­di­tions for their ef­fec­tive ac­tiv­ity in the coun­try.

To­day, the civil so­ci­ety of Uzbek­istan is char­ac­ter­ized by pro­cesses of im­prov­ing pub­lic and so­cial gov­er­nance. Ex­ten­sive ef­forts are un­der­taken in the coun­try in the sphere of lib­er­al­iza­tion of pub­lic life, de­vel­op­ment of mod­ern forms of pub­lic con­trol, growth in the ef­fec­tive­ness of so­cial part­ner­ship and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the con­cept “From a strong state to a ro­bust civil so­ci­ety”, con­sol­i­da­tion of the role and im­por­tance of civil so­ci­ety in­sti­tu­tions, cit­i­zens’ self-gov­ern­ment bod­ies in the mod­ern­iza­tion of the coun­try, their har­mo­nious in­te­gra­tion into the sys­tem of gov­ern­ment and so­ci­ety.

Uzbek­istan’s ex­pe­ri­ence con­firms that the sus­tain­abil­ity of the move­ment to­wards civil so­ci­ety and a mar­ket econ­omy is di­rectly de­pen­dent on the for­ma­tion of its le­gal frame­work. The study of the po­lit­i­cal pro­cesses tak­ing place in the world show that if the leg­is­la­tion does not de­velop and lags be­hind the dy­nam­i­cally de­vel­op­ing so­cial re­la­tions, then this in­evitably leads to sys­temic, some­times an­tag­o­nis­tic con­tra­dic­tions in so­cial de­vel­op­ment.

In ac­cor­dance with the Strat­egy of Ac­tions, tak­ing into ac­count the cur­rent state and prospects for the de­vel­op­ment of civil so­ci­ety in Uzbek­istan, sys­tem­atic and com­pre­hen­sive mea­sures are be­ing taken to strengthen the legislative bases for the ac­tiv­i­ties of civil so­ci­ety in­sti­tu­tions – non-gov­ern­men­tal non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, self­gov­ern­ing bod­ies of cit­i­zens, pub­lic funds, trade unions and other pub­lic as­so­ci­a­tions.

Over the years of in­de­pen­dence, more than 250 legislative acts aimed at boost­ing the role and sig­nif­i­cance of civil in­sti­tu­tions have been adopted, while more than 50 of them were passed in Septem­ber 2016 - Novem­ber 2017. They in­clude such laws as the Youth Pol­icy, On So­cial Ser­vices for the El­derly, Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties and Other So­cially Vul­ner­a­ble Seg­ments of Pop­u­la­tion, On Coun­ter­act­ing Cor­rup­tion, among oth­ers.

For the first time in the na­tional prac­tice, the con­cept of a “youth non-state non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion” as a self-gov­ern­ing NGO has been de­fined, which has the goals of re­al­iz­ing and pro­tect­ing per­sonal, po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic, so­cial and cul­tural rights, free­doms and le­git­i­mate in­ter­ests, as well as in­creas­ing the so­cial ac­tiv­ity of young peo­ple.

It was es­tab­lished that the state ren­ders ma­te­rial and fi­nan­cial sup­port to youth NGOs, they were granted the right to use the premises of ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, clubs, cul­tural and leisure cen­ters of the pop­u­la­tion, sports and other fa­cil­i­ties. They may own build­ings, hous­ing stock, equip­ment, im­ple­ments, cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tional and re­cre­ational fa­cil­i­ties, money, se­cu­ri­ties and other prop­erty nec­es­sary for ma­te­rial sup­port of ac­tiv­i­ties en­vis­aged by its char­ter.

The law en­shrines the guar­an­tees of ac­tiv­i­ties and spheres of in­ter­ac­tion of the state with non-gov­ern­men­tal non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions in the field of im­ple­ment­ing youth pol­icy. At the same time, en­sur­ing the rights, free­doms and le­git­i­mate in­ter­ests of young peo­ple is de­fined as the pri­or­ity ar­eas of such co­op­er­a­tion; pro­tec­tion of her life and health, the for­ma­tion of her de­sire for a healthy life­style; spir­i­tual, in­tel­lec­tual, phys­i­cal and moral de­vel­op­ment of the younger gen­er­a­tion; pro­vid­ing young peo­ple with af­ford­able and qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion; de­vel­op­ment of youth en­trepreneur­ship, pro­vi­sion of em­ploy­ment and em­ploy­ment of youth; moral and ma­te­rial sup­port of young fam­i­lies.

In or­der to cre­ate fa­vor­able con­di­tions for the com­pre­hen­sive and har­mo­nious de­vel­op­ment of young peo­ple and young fam­i­lies, the state’s obli­ga­tions are legally fixed on sup­port­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the sys­tem of NGOs, es­pe­cially those that pro­vide so­cial ser­vices and as­sis­tance to young peo­ple.

An­other im­por­tant factor in strength­en­ing the role of NGOs was the adop­tion of the law on so­cial ser­vices for the el­derly, dis­abled peo­ple and other so­cially vul­ner­a­ble cat­e­gories of the pop­u­la­tion. It in­cludes in the sys­tem of or­ga­ni­za­tions in the field of so­cial ser­vices, along with pub­lic authorities and man­age­ment, busi­ness en­ti­ties, as well as non-gov­ern­men­tal non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions and cit­i­zens’ self-gov­ern­ment bod­ies.

The ser­vices are aimed at im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life, first of all, for so­cially vul­ner­a­ble cat­e­gories of the pop­u­la­tion, in­clud­ing sin­gle and lonely el­derly peo­ple in need of ex­tracur­ric­u­lar care, dis­abled per­sons, in­ca­pac­i­tated and dis­abled cit­i­zens, peo­ple with so­cially sig­nif­i­cant dis­eases, or­phans and chil­dren, left with­out parental care. It is about cre­at­ing equal op­por­tu­ni­ties for other cit­i­zens to par­tic­i­pate in the life of so­ci­ety and ex­pand their op­por­tu­ni­ties to pro­vide their ba­sic life needs on their own.

The Law on Coun­ter­act­ing Cor­rup­tion has a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance in strength­en­ing the role of civil in­sti­tu­tions in en­sur­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in the coun­try and in the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of so­ci­ety. Par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion is paid to their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the de­vel­op­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion of pro­grams in the field of com­bat­ing cor­rup­tion, rais­ing the le­gal con­scious­ness and le­gal cul­ture of the pop­u­la­tion, and form­ing an in­tol­er­ant at­ti­tude to­wards cor­rup­tion in the so­ci­ety.

Within the frame­work of the Ac­tions Strat­egy, sep­a­rate de­crees and res­o­lu­tions of the head of state were signed to fur­ther im­prove the ac­tiv­i­ties of such non-gov­ern­men­tal non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions as Nuroniy, Ma­halla, the Repub­li­can Coun­cil for Co­or­di­nat­ing the Ac­tiv­i­ties of Self­Gov­ern­ment Bod­ies, the Union of Youth of Uzbek­istan, the Chamber of Com­merce and In­dus­try, the Coun­cil of Farm­ers, the Cen­ter for De­vel­op­ment Strat­egy.

For ex­am­ple, the pres­i­den­tial de­cree on mea­sures to fur­ther im­prove the ac­tiv­i­ties of the Nuroniy Foun­da­tion for the so­cial sup­port of veterans of Uzbek­istan is aimed at sup­port­ing older peo­ple, so­cial pro­tec­tion of the el­derly and veterans, in­creas­ing their ac­tiv­ity, cre­at­ing con­di­tions for full par­tic­i­pa­tion in the so­ciopo­lit­i­cal life of the coun­try, role of the older gen­er­a­tion in en­sur­ing peace and tranquility in the coun­try.

In ac­cor­dance with the document, the Nuroniy Foun­da­tion was re­or­ga­nized into the Nuroniy Foun­da­tion for Sup­port of Pub­lic Ac­tiv­i­ties of Uzbek­istan’s Veterans. In other words, this means trans­lat­ing the em­pha­sis from the pas­sive pol­icy of “so­cial sup­port for veterans” to an ac­tive and dy­namic pol­icy of sup­port­ing the pub­lic ac­tiv­i­ties of veterans.

This act is also an­other ev­i­dence of con­struc­tive state sup­port for the ac­tiv­i­ties of non-state non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, the de­vel­op­ment and strength­en­ing of so­cial part­ner­ship. In par­tic­u­lar, the document pro­vides for an an­nual trans­fer to the Nuroniy Fund of 10% of the funds com­ing from the char­ity khashars en­ter­ing the Ma­halla Fund, the in­tro­duc­tion of the post of deputy chair­man of the cit­i­zens’ as­sem­blies (auls, kish­laks, ma­hal­las) in the self­gov­ern­ing bod­ies of cit­i­zens, as a con­sul­tant for the el­derly and veterans and oth­ers.

The pos­si­bil­i­ties of state struc­tures and NGOs for solv­ing the prob­lems of rais­ing the level and qual­ity of life of el­derly peo­ple, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and lonely el­derly, strength­en­ing tar­geted so­cial pro­tec­tion and ex­pand­ing the types of as­sis­tance pro­vided to them, and pro­vid­ing them with qual­ity med­i­cal ser­vices are greatly en­hanced.

In con­clu­sion, I would like to em­pha­size that one of the main directions pur­sued by so­ciopo­lit­i­cal and so­cio-eco­nomic re­forms is the strength­en­ing of the role and sig­nif­i­cance of civil so­ci­ety in­sti­tu­tions and in­de­pen­dent me­dia. A sig­nif­i­cant role here is played by self­gov­ern­ing bod­ies of cit­i­zens – ma­hal­las, where the most valu­able traits are ini­tia­tive, ef­fi­ciency, pa­tri­o­tism and hu­man­ism of cit­i­zens of our coun­try.

The state and so­ci­ety must en­sure the full re­al­iza­tion of the po­ten­tial of cit­i­zens seek­ing to take direct and ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in the po­lit­i­cal and pub­lic life of the coun­try, in­clud­ing through their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the daily life of self-gov­ern­ment bod­ies.

For ex­am­ple, given the fact that more than 60% of the pop­u­la­tion of Uzbek­istan is young peo­ple un­der 30 years old, the adop­tion of the Law on Youth Pol­icy has re­ceived a great pub­lic and po­lit­i­cal re­ver­ber­a­tion. The bill pro­vides with directions, forms and mech­a­nisms for in­ter­ac­tion be­tween state bod­ies and non­govern­men­tal non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, cit­i­zens’ self­gov­ern­ment bod­ies, the me­dia in im­ple­ment­ing so­cial, eco­nomic, or­ga­ni­za­tional and le­gal mea­sures taken by the state, and pro­vide for the cre­ation of con­di­tions for the so­cial for­ma­tion and de­vel­op­ment of in­tel­lec­tual, cre­ative and other po­ten­tial of the younger gen­er­a­tion.

In par­tic­u­lar, mea­sures are in place to en­sure the full cov­er­age of 2.8 mil­lion el­derly cit­i­zens by in-depth med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion by spe­cial­ized med­i­cal teams for the timely de­tec­tion and treat­ment of dis­eases; preven­tion of dis­eases of el­derly cit­i­zens through con­stant mon­i­tor­ing of their health by at­tached nurs­ing nurses; con­struc­tion and equip­ment of three new sana­to­ri­ums for the el­derly, dis­abled, veterans of war and la­bor in Bukhara, Kashkadarya and Khorezm re­gions; es­tab­lish­ment of in­ter­re­gional car­dio­surgery cen­ters for open heart surgery in Andi­jan, Bukhara, Sa­markand and Ferghana re­gions; con­sol­i­da­tion of the ma­te­rial and tech­ni­cal base of 23 board­ing homes for the el­derly and dis­abled, Sakho­vat and Mu­ruv­vat.

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