This year will go down in the history of Uzbekistan as the year of the constitutional reform. While the proposals for amending the Constitution are received, several experts predict that the improved Basic Law will provide a breakthrough for the country and a colossal development of civil society.
The current Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan was adopted three decades ago, on December 8, 1992. This was the period when the young Republic took its first democratic steps, and the Basic Law then played an important role in the formation of democratic and universal values, in ensuring human rights in the country. Determined the fate and future of the country.
However, if, on the one hand, the ongoing rapid changes pose new global challenges for the state, society and the individual, on the other hand, the rapid development of the young state requires the improvement of the Constitution and the timely resolution of emerging problems.
That is why, in congratulations to the people of Uzbekistan on the occasion of the 29th anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev listed nine areas in which the Basic Law should be changed:
– replacement in national legislation and legal practice of the previously existing principle “state – society – person” with a new one – “person – society – state”;
– consolidation of human interests as the main criterion in the process of economic reforms;
– Constitutional consolidation of the role and status of civil society institutions, reflecting the principle “Society is the initiator of reforms”;
– to define in the Basic Law the constitutional foundations for the development of the family institution, the careful communication of traditional human values to future generations, and further strengthening interethnic harmony in the country;
– the Constitution should reflect the state youth policy, issues of comprehensive support for young people, their rights and obligations;
– consolidation of the principle “New Uzbekistan – a social state” as a constitutional norm;
– prevention of child labor, reliable protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, representatives of the older generation;
– introduction into the Constitution of norms related to the Environmental Law;
– fixing at the constitutional level the issues of development of kindergartens, schools, higher education and science, which are interrelated components of the foundation of the Third Renaissance.
And all of the above are those areas that have not been deeply reflected in the current Constitution, which to this day cause significant problems, and which have not been fully resolved for years.
Based on the proposed changes, it becomes clear that the goal of the constitutional reform is the idea of a humane social state.
It is no secret that in the first years of independence, when the Constitution was adopted, property rights in Uzbekistan, in particular, the right to private property, the procedures for its protection were not fully formed. That is why there are still certain problems in the protection of private property.
According to the proposals received, priority attention in the course of the constitutional reform should be given to the implementation of the principles of inviolability and protection of private property, including land and minerals, as the most important and necessary conditions for ensuring the welfare of the population, developing the national economy and economic human rights.
In Uzbekistan, the main attention is paid to the development of civil society institutions. As a result of the measures taken, the number of non-governmental non-profit organizations, which are the main civil society institutions, has increased. In particular, in a short period, about 200 large non-governmental non-profit organizations began their activities.
In this regard, a separate Presidential Decree was issued and the Concept for the Development of Civil Society for 2021-2025 was approved. At the same time, the main attention is paid to improving the legal base of civil society institutions. The reforms initiated in this direction require the introduction of certain amendments and additions to the current Constitution.
Uzbekistan always pays close attention to the family institution, striving to find the harmony between national and modern values. However, in the current Constitution, the state takes on more responsibility in matters of the economy, without burdening itself with the care of children and the elderly. That is, there are cases when the responsibility for children lies with the parents, and for the elderly – with the child. Of course, in the process of constitutional reform, national values in terms of raising children and caring for the elderly will have to be revised, without departing from traditions.
In Uzbekistan, citizens under the age of 30 make up 56.7% of the total population (children – 29.6%, youth – 27.9%). This, in turn, requires that public policy pay special attention to the interests, rights and obligations of this layer.
The country has special values, special social norms regarding attention to the older generation, and the nation is proud of these foundations.
Among the population one can often hear such an expression as “the responsibility of children to their parents strengthened only in our Constitution”. Citizens are proud of it.
One of the main ideas of the amendments to the Constitution proposed today is the careful communication of traditional human values to future generations. This means that the development of the family institution will be based on traditions based on national and universal values.
Today, one of the main issues is environmental law. In the last decade of the last century, the country was engulfed in economic and social problems, the solution of which was of the utmost importance. And so the Basic Law reflected the pressing issues of that time. And today, ecology has become a serious problem not only for Uzbekistan, but for the whole world.
Uzbekistan today is planning the future for the long term. The country promotes the national idea – the idea of the Third Renaissance, consisting of four main links – kindergarten, school, higher education and science. The proposed amendments to the Constitution define the legal basis and guarantees for the development of these four links.
It is no secret that the state, preoccupied with economic problems and security issues, neglected the system of preschool education for many years. This policy was reflected in such circumstances as the reduction of kindergartens, the sole responsibility of parents for raising a child, and the reduction in the length of service of employed parents for this period.
Of course, in recent years, cardinal changes have taken place in this regard, first of all, the state took care of the preschool education system, a separate ministry was created, a policy was pursued to return and rehabilitate abandoned kindergartens, and attract private entrepreneurship to this area.
Several reforms were also carried out in the school sector. It should be noted that in the past there was a procedure in the Soviet education system when children with poor academic performance or those who were guilty after the 8th grade was “driven away” to vocational schools and such a system were not justified. In the first decade of independence, this order was introduced throughout the education system of Uzbekistan. That is, after the 8th grade, almost all children became oriented toward vocational education. Of course, the material and technical base were formed, and huge construction work was carried out. However, in education, such a system did not justify itself, as in the former Soviet era.
In recent years, the country has paid special attention to the education of an educated generation. To this end, the education system was radically reformed, and school education in the country was divided into two systems: public education (about 10,000 schools) and Presidential educational institutions (about 200 schools).
Radical reforms are also being carried out in the development of higher education and science in the country. The educational process and science are becoming one of the most important areas of state activity, and in society, these areas are very relevant and important. The main issue is to determine this legal framework for reforms, guarantees and directions for development.
Chairman of the Commission on Constitutional Reform, Academician Akmal Saidov, in one of his speeches, stated that “the spirit of constitutional reform is roaming around the world”. Indeed, over the past 25 years, more than 100 countries have undertaken constitutional reforms.
Because the process of globalization is pushing the world toward rapid change. Staying in one place, especially in the field of law, leads to stagnation.
The constitutional reforms planned today in Uzbekistan cause discussions among the population. Citizens have high hopes for these changes, believing that they will fundamentally change their lives.
This is because all 16 amendments to the current constitution in 30 years have been introduced in the sphere of public administration. There were no changes in the sphere of individual rights and freedoms, economic and social rights, guarantees of human rights and freedoms, and duties of citizens.
Five years ago, cardinal reforms in state policy began in Uzbekistan, based on the principle that “it is not the people who should serve the state bodies, but the state bodies that should serve the people”. The constitutional reforms currently being implemented are a consistent continuation of this policy with an emphasis on protecting the interests of citizens.
From the above directions proposed by the President, it is clear that these reforms will consist of changes and innovations that citizens are waiting for and that meet their interests.
Meanwhile, the Constitutional Commission continues to receive proposals for amendments to the Basic Law. Thus, the most interesting area for citizens is, among other things, the issue of Internet access. There have been many proposals to enshrine in the Basic Law the right to freely access and use the Internet. As mentioned above, the majority of the population of Uzbekistan is young people. And for this layer, of course, the issue of access to general-purpose telecommunications networks is very important. And this direction is not fully reflected in the current Constitution. The issue of freedom of speech is expressed in one case, followed by two exceptions.
There are also many proposals regarding social problems that concern the population. In particular, among them are the issues of providing a citizen with a decent monthly salary, protection from unemployment and poverty, and ensuring by the state a minimum level of free medical care.
These issues can be resolved within the framework of the law, too, but citizens want these basic rights to be enshrined and guaranteed in the Constitution.
There are also many proposals regarding ecology. There are proposals to write in the Constitution on the protection of the right of each individual in ecology – to secure the right to a favorable environment, reliable information about its condition and compensation for damage caused to his health or property by an environmental offense.
It should be noted that in the current Constitution, the issue of ecology is reflected in four cases and imposes obligations on owners and citizens. And the state has no obligations in this matter.
There are also many proposals related to the sphere of higher education.
In particular, support for talented youth regardless of their financial situation, ensuring academic freedom in higher education institutions, civil society, free research and free education.
In addition, proposals were received regarding the inviolability of property, a favorable institutional business environment, preventing the monopolization of economic activity, eradicating corruption, transferring to the Senate the authority to appoint and dismiss the head of the Anti-Corruption Agency, to provide citizens and legal entities with the right to appeal to the Constitutional Court. Proposals are also made to strengthen intellectual property rights, protect personal data, non-interference in the activities of lawyers, the right to a lawyer through the Constitution.
In a word, the constitutional reforms launched in Uzbekistan reflect the most pressing issues of citizens, society and the state. They reveal the problems that have worried people for many years, and most importantly, they inspire hope and confidence in the future.
A large-scale process is just beginning with the reforms. A lot of work remains to be done, and the main task now is to fully reflect the solution of all issues in amendments to the Constitution.