Human Rights: Challenges of Time and the Realities
On 22-23 November, Samarkand hosted the Asian Forum on Human Rights.
This major event initiated by President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev was organized jointly with the regional bureau of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Central Asia, the UN Permanent Mission in Uzbekistan, the UNDP Regional Center in Istanbul, the UNDP Uzbekistan, the OSCE Project Coordinator in our country, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
The forum entitled “The Effects of the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Challenges of Time and the Realities” was attended by Uzbek experts and their colleagues from abroad, representatives of parliamentary and judicial systems, law enforcement agencies, government coordinating bodies on reporting and followup review, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations, international and regional bodies. Representatives from Russia, China, India, Iran, the Central Asian countries, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Afghanistan and a number of other states arrived to attend the event.
The greeting message from the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the forum participants was read out by the Chairman of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis Nigmatilla Yuldoshev. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres sent a video message to the conference contributors.
In our difficult times, the key principle of human rights – their universality – remains on the agenda of political processes and international legal practice. At the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, in September 2015 in New York, the leaders of 179 states approved the agenda in this area for the period up to 2030.
The tasks for the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the next 15 years were defined. Unfortunately, in some regions of the world, it is not easy for states to ensure universal rights for everyone.
“The economy of the Asian continent, which occupies over 30% of the total land, accounts for about 32% of global economic activity,” said Akmal Saidov, director of the National Center for Human Rights of Uzbekistan. “In Asia, the economy is developing rapidly, and incomes of the population have been rising. At the same time, economic development in itself does not mean the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and more effective protection of human rights. This forum, held in our continent for the first time since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, seeks to work out practical recommendations for improving existing and establishing new mechanisms for the protection of human rights.”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the first international legal document to which our country acceded after gaining independence. The main principles of this declaration are reflected in the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Developed at the initiative of the President of our country, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Action Strategy along Five Priority Tracks of Development of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021 marked the dawn of a new stage in the improvement of the system for ensuring human rights, freedoms and legitimate interests. The Strategy has become the “roadmap” of Uzbekistan for the implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goals. With its adoption, issues of support, protection and observance of human rights have become priority areas of government policy and cooperation with international partners.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a legal document aimed at protecting and guaranteeing personal, economic, social, political, cultural rights and human freedoms, said United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Director General of the UN Office in Geneva, Michael Møller. No other document, according to him, compares with the Declaration in the number of translations into the languages of the peoples of the world, laws and other legal acts developed on its basis, of the acceding states. For it defines that every person on our planet has equal rights and freedoms regardless of place of birth and residence, ethnic or language affiliation, religious beliefs. The Republic of Uzbekistan, along with other UN members, pays special attention to the implementation of the norms of the Declaration. In the policy of large-scale reforms pursued by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the basis of the Action Strategy, the focus is on the goal of ensuring the rights, freedoms and interests of the individual.
Natalia German, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Head of the Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, noting that the Asian Forum on Human Rights is a logical continuation of the international conference “Central Asia: One Past and a Common Future, Sustainable Development and Mutual Prosperity”, held in Samarkand in November 2017, stressed the significance of this event not only for the peoples of the region, but also for the whole of Asia.
“The active regional policy of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, along with the development of economic ties, brings the historically friendly and fraternal peoples closer together,” said Natalia German. “Simplification of the mode of entry and exit at the border of Uzbekistan with neighboring states, the enhancement of cooperation in the transport and logistics sphere primarily serve the interests of ordinary citizens. In addition, we welcome the initiatives put forward to secure peaceful resolution of the situation in Afghanistan and protect the rights and interests of the population, women and children in particular. From this point of view, the current forum in Samarkand is of historic significance.”
Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, the Chairman of the Executive Committee – Executive Secretary of the CIS Sergey Lebedev, Chairman of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly George Tsereteli, Special Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Abdelmula and others spoke at the forum about the international scope of work and the upcoming challenges in the field of human rights protection, the importance of the forum.
Participants heard a message from the Inter-Parliamentary Union Secretary General, Martin Chungong.
Within the framework of the Asian Forum, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the OSCE Project Coordinator in Uzbekistan. On the first day of the forum,
the participants exchanged views during break-up sessions such as “Legacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: universality and human rights”, “Human rights as the basis for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”, “Human rights education: innovations and new appeals”.
The session organized on the second day was devoted to the theme “Cooperation of national human rights institutions with state bodies and civil society institutions in ensuring respect, protection of human rights and their observance”. The participants were presented with reports by the High Commissioner of the National Commission of Mongolia on Human Rights Jamsran Byambadorj, the Ombudsman of Kyrgyzstan Tokon Mamytov, Chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights of Indonesia Ahmad Damanik, member of the Human Rights Committee of the Sultanate of Oman Iskhaq bin Jumma alHarusi.
Building on these reports on the topic and on the opinions and judgments, participants developed proposals and recommendations for the session.
Following that, there was a final meeting dedicated to the results of the forum. Director of the National Center for Human Rights of the Republic of Uzbekistan Akmal Saidov announced that the Asian Forum has succeeded.
“During these two days, many reports were heard at the forum sessions,” Saidov said. “In addition, small working groups exchanged views on reports on topics. During these meetings, over fifty participants conveyed their proposals and recommendations, including representatives of international organizations, government bodies, parliaments, judicial bodies, civil society institutions. The organizers of the event took these views into account when drafting the final document of the forum – the Samarkand Declaration on Human Rights, and reflected them in this document. Participants noted the timely organization of the Asian Forum and the discussion during it of pressing issues regarding the protection of human rights.
The Special Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Adam Abdelmula, underscored that the forum occasioned to the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been important in delivering mutual exchange of views and experiences among national institutions and international experts, in identifying tasks in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. Therefore, he suggested that the forum be held regularly.
Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan Helena Fraser also noted that the forum proved successful, and the views expressed therein were important because they identified urgent issues in the protection of human rights in Asian countries.