SOCIO-POLITICAL TRANSFORMATION IN CENTRAL ASIA

Политические науки

Shirinov A.Q.

Seniour Lecturer in the History faculty at the Bukhara State University, Uzbekistan. Author for correspondence: Shirinov Anvar Qanoatovich, email: anvarsh@yahoo.com Mobile: +99890 964 6850, Office: +99865 2212572

SOCIO-POLITICAL TRANSFORMATION IN CENTRAL ASIA

Summary: The following article provides a cross-country analysis of the democratic activities in the countries of the Central Asia (CA). It was revealed that the immense amounts of the technical and financial assistance was offered to the enterprises in the region including private and public. A new study identifies challenges and opportunities to help CA countries to diversify their economy and boost their infrastructural capabilities.. As a sample the activities of the EU, EBRD, GIZ, ACTED, ICARDA are reassessed.

Objective and methods: This study provides a primary analysis of data and follows the actualities of the work of organizations dealing with the human development issues in the CA countries following the path laid in the framework of activities of international organizations. Author uses the achieved model (composed of several factors: Development, promotion, strategy, legal, human rights, environment, assistance, project, dialogue, cooperation, sustainable).

Keywords: Development, promotion, strategy, legal, human, climate, environment, assistance, project, dialogue, cooperation, sustainable, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

Formulation of the problem. Central Asia has a centuries-old tradition of bringing Europe and Asia together. Situated at the crossroads between the two continents and the states of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have renewed this role for the region. Important international organizations are conducting cooperation with the countries of the region: most important of them being the EU, EBRD, GIZ, ACTED. Following European organizations are also conducting partnership in CA: Aga Khan Foundation, Aide aux enfants démunis, Association Kareen Mane, Creative Learning, EuropeAid, Famille Villard, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. 2018 was a crucial year for boosting democratic tendencies in CA, taking stock of the experience to deliver a contribution to implementing the European Union — CA Strategy.

Analysis of latest researches and publications. Different organizations are engaged in the international aid programs in the countries of CA. The sample comprised the 223 projects conducted in the Central Asian countries with an average sum of 56.5 million USD. Most projects are directed at the sustainable development (117-52.4%). More than quarter of the projects are intended for the environment issues (77-28.9%). Following the recent developments in Uzbekistan the EBRD opened a new office in Tashkent in 2017. In Uzbekistan EBRD focuses on identifying potential new projects in areas set out in a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the authorities in March 2017. In Tajikistan EBRD focuses on stabilizing and rebuilding trust in the banking sector, developing private enterprises and agribusiness, improving their liability, quality of municipal services and improving the quality of energy supply, regulation and energy efficiency. In the Kyrgyz Republic it focuses on fostering sustainable growth; promoting the sustainability of public utilities; and supporting critical infrastructure. A landmark renewable energy project in Kazakhstan was co-financed by the EBRD and the Clean Technology Fund with loans of well over €80 million. EBRD is expanding its presence in the agribusiness sector in Kazakhstan with a local currency loan equivalent to US$ 49.2 million to RG Brands. According to the Memorandum of Understanding, signed between the EBRD and the Ministry for Investment and Development of Kazakhstan, the Bank supports national economic policy known as Nurly Zhol[1]. The EBRD is setting up a fund to deal with the legacy of Soviet-era uranium mining in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan[2]. It is reengaging in Uzbekistan with the provision of a financial package of up to US$ 30 million to JSCB Hamkorbank, the country’s privately-owned bank[3]. EBRD provided US$ 100 million to Uzbekistan’s leading bank NBU[4].

Explanation of the priorly unsettled parts of the general issue. In September 2017, in his inaugural address to the UN General Assembly, Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev used the global stage to pledge to protect human rights – a promise that has being transformed into real actions. During 2017-2018, Uzbekistan has increased the accountability of government institutions to citizens. It has banned the forced mobilization of teachers, doctors, and college students to labor in fields for the annual cotton-picking season. These moves–coupled with currency reforms and a foreign policy focused on repairing relations with Uzbekistan’s immediate neighbors have contributed to a hope in Uzbekistan. On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution, Sh. Mirziyoyev signed a Decree on pardoning 2,700 convicts. It is important that Uzbekistan took to improve the judicial system, labor conditions and the fight against corruption. EU is considering two new projects within the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights[5]. During the last two years the reforms facilitated to more than 2528 new citizens were granted the citizenship of the Republic of Uzbekistan which was almost impossible before[6].

The EU announced that a new EU Strategy for Central Asia should be adopted in 2019, taking into account the changing political and socio-economic regional environment. The Foreign Ministers of the СA countries, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, and the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development met on 10 November 2017 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, for the 13th EU-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting[7].

The GIZ (“Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH”) has been implementing sustainable development projects, programs in Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan being Germany’s partner countries in the context of its international cooperation. GIZ has been implementing projects in this country since the 1990s. GIZ is implementing projects in CA countries on a regional, transnational basis. Cooperation in the health system focuses on reproductive health and rights, the introduction of development partnerships with the private sector, and quality improvements in health services, particularly in the regions. GIZ’s programs support health system development and the fight against drug use and drug trafficking[8]. GIZ’s other areas of activity in Kyrgyzstan are: 1) improving primary and secondary education, reform of vocational training, training of managers, 2) legal and judicial reform, 3) transboundary dialogue on water resources management; support for sustainable natural resource management 4) assisting the Ministry of Youth Affairs to improve the prospects for young people in disadvantaged and conflict-prone areas, 4) promoting civil society organizations through a fund for small-scale development projects.

Aim of our research is stipulated by the following criteria: Transparence, Transboundary water management in CA, CA Drug Action Program German biosecurity program, Reforms in the educational systems in CA, Fund for development projects with civil society partners, especially in disadvantaged regions.

Main body. The CA countries had diverged more and more in terms of their legal and economic development. The fundamental problem at the root of the weak economic development was the insufficiently developed frameworks, in particular the lack of transparency[9]. The projects in CA supports legal and judicial reforms in the area of civil and commercial law, provides assistance to the institutions monitoring government activities. GIZ supports in achieving objectives in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development, facilitates change, empowers people to take sustainable development processes. GIZ operates in many fields: economic development and employment promotion; governance and democracy; security, reconstruction, peacebuilding and civil conflict transformation; food security, health and basic education; and environmental protection, resource conservation, tourism and climate change mitigation.

ACTED launched EU-funded DIPECHO X promoting integrated Watershed Management between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. ACTED has been especially active in building the capacity of rural communities to prevent natural disasters through the improved management of natural resources[10]. The following projects are in process in Tajikistan: Learning and Supporting: Two EU Aid Volunteers working on sustainable development in Tajikistan, Community-based anticipation strategies to save lives. ACTED in 2016 run 20 projects in total projects 20 having 70 509 direct beneficiaries.

Uzbekistan is a resource-rich, doubly landlocked country, strategically located in the heart of Central Asia. Governance at central and local levels is needed to improve participatory decision-making, transparency, and the openness of government bodies. The number of women in the Parliament of Uzbekistan has increased from 6 % in 1994 to 16 % in 2015.

ACTED has started developing its activities in Uzbekistan in 1999. It is leveraging long-lasting experience in the framework of a five-fold mandate: Public health, agricultural activity, environmental protection, preparedness and liquidation of emergency situations, water sanitation and hygiene are the main directions of the ACTED. The purpose of the Uzbekistan’s Strategy of Actions for 2017-2021 is raising the efficiency of reforms, creation of conditions to ensure comprehensive and accelerated development of the state and society. The Strategy includes five priority areas. Since 1999, ACTED has been active in the fields of food security, conflict mitigation, local governance, strengthening CSOs through capacity building, shelter and infrastructure, microfinance, health education, reproductive health care, water and sanitation, etc. ACTED has started implementing its “Uzbekistan CSO Empowerment & Promotion Project” which aims at improving local governance in Uzbekistan by enhancing the capacity of CSOs to act as sustainable development actors. Civil society organizations in Uzbekistan are recognized as key actors in local governance. ACTED and its local partners are conducting a Grassroots Organizations Capacity Assessment of CSOs to identify the trainings. ACTED and its partners continue to increase access for the vulnerable groups, by providing free legal services, online innovative legal tools and engaging legal practitioners to advocate for practical improvements to the legal system. In 2016, over 5,300 marginalized people benefited from legal aid consultations. Particularly of note has been the high response of women (77% of beneficiaries accessing ACTED’s free legal aid) to access these legal services for support. ACTED’s Approach in Kyrgyzstan ACTED strategy in Kyrgyzstan is based on three Global Program Pillars: 1) To respond to emergencies and build disaster resilience. 2) To strengthen civil society, effective governance and social cohesion. 3) To promote inclusive and sustainable growth. ACTED promotes that empowering communities and developing the capacity of both civil society organizations and local authorities. Since 2014, ACTED has been committed to enhancing access to justice for vulnerable populations in remote areas. ACTED helped establish a network of 71 women’s organizations across Kyrgyzstan to facilitate the enforcement of Kyrgyzstan’s National Action Plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. In 2017, building on its unique community outreach and vast experience in peace building and social cohesion, ACTED developed a Comprehensive Strategy for the Prevention of Violent Extremism. In Kyrgyzstan in 2017 there were 214,222 beneficiaries of the project totaling a budget of $ 1.4 million. The OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan in co-operation with the National Information-Analytical Center on Drug Control under the Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan has been issuing the information bulletin on the Drug Situation in Central Asia on yearly basis since 2003. Several large events were organized by the OSCE Project coordinator in Uzbekistan supporting open doors event at General Prosecutor’s Office for International Anti-Corruption Day offering training courses for female managers, organizing regional seminar on combating money laundering in Tashkent. Even in Uzbek media and society, OSCE is promoting social advertisement calling for the eradication of corruption with the help of the distribution of the brochures and posters, TV-ads.

Discussion. In general, these findings of the growth component in defining the assistance in the CA countries reinforce the total sustainability efforts in the region (namely composed of several factors: Development, promotion, strategy, legal, human, climate, environment, assistance, project, dialogue, cooperation, sustainable).

The following projects are in process in Tajikistan: Learning and Supporting: Two EU Aid Volunteers working on sustainable development in Tajikistan, Alleviating energy poverty in Tajikistan, Supporting Pasture Users Unions to prevent pasture degradation in Tajikistan, Community-based anticipation strategies to save lives, Water in Tajikistan, abundant yet challenging. Recent developments indicate that CA countries are all collaborating in all fields. Opening of check points, visa-free movement of people between the countries facilitate the harmonization of the relations among the CA.

The following steps are stipulated by the Strategy of Actions of the Uzbekistan intended for the years 2017-2021.Parliamentary control is enhanced started, E-government (2017 4th trimester), Intended promulgation of Law on Public services, decreasing the level of the participation the state (2nd trimester of 2017), Public control (2017 3rd trimester), Peoples’ reception halls started to operate from 1 of January 2017 at regional and district level processing the addresses, complaints of the people, physical and legal entities. The conduct of the administrative reforms and the maintenance of their efficiency. In addition, the state launched the initiative such as the state-private sector partnership laying the fundamentals of the legal framework 3rd trimester of 2017. One of these reforms is widening the role of citizens and mass media in the socio-economic life of the country (4th trimester of 2017). Perfection of the tasks and order of the state authorities, the increasing of the control by the councils in the local self-governing bodies is already being take (3rd trimester)[11].

Cardinal reforms are currently in progress across the socio-economic, cultural, humanitarian and political life of Uzbekistan. The participants were informed about the essence and substance of the Decent Work Country Program designed to perfect the national labor legislation, improve the labor market, ensure employment and social protection and maintain constant dialogue with the population. The reports provided information on the system of parliamentary and public control over compliance with international labor standards, prevention and elimination of possible risks of using child and forced labor, about the Roadmap for the Implementation of the SDGs realized currently in the country. While attending the 107th session of the ILC held in Geneva from May 28 to June 8, 2018the Uzbek delegation met with the Director General and staff of the International Labor Organization, the leadership of the International Trade Union Confederation and the International Organization of Employers, officials of other countries. During the negotiations, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder informed that Uzbekistan’s achievements in recent years are highly appreciated and recognized by the organization and the expert community as well as the advanced nations. The ILO head stressed that the current dynamic development of Uzbekistan is characterized by a bold, open policy aimed at addressing pressing problems of the society. This is evidenced by the fact that within a short period of time Uzbekistan and the ILO have made tangible progress on complex issues. According to Ryder, the achievements made by Uzbekistan in the field of child and forced labor have become a powerful response to the entire international community. For the last years the countries of the region are eliminating the such issues like child and forced labor. The CA countries are improving labor legislation, creating decent working conditions and strengthening social protection[12].

On November 22-23, in Samarkand Asian forum on human rights was held. The forum hosted the representatives of UN and other organizations, human rights institutions in Asia, scholars. On the basis of the Asian forum on human rights the memorandum of the national human rights institutes of Central Asian countries was accepted in Tashkent[13]. It stipulates the creation of the efficient system of maintaining and the defense of the liberties of human by the state according to the international standards[14]. On 10 December 2018 on the basis of the Decree by the president of Uzbekistan the Uzbek National center on human rights was given extra tasks to fulfill which makes it more independent in the national and international levels. The decree stipulates that the center is independent from the all state authorities and organizations and is responsible in the fulfilment of the international obligations of Uzbekistan[15]. The Independent institute on the monitoring of the formation of civil society (NIMFOGO) is one of the leading NGOs of Uzbekistan. It was formed in 2003 on the initiative of the public organizations, research and educational establishments[16]. The strategy of development organization is going to help democratic reforms in Uzbekistan[17]. The role of the perfection of the public control is undergoing. International and foreign partners of NIMFOGO such as OSCE, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Conrad Adenauer Stiftung, ACTED, Regional Dialogue (Slovenia), International center for noncommercial law, USAID, John Hopkins University-Civil society studies center, Institute for prognosis and security (France), Tsukuba university are implementing their projects promoting democracy[18].

At present, new risks and challenges to national, regional, and international security include international terrorism, distribution of weapons of mass destruction, illegal drug trafficking, and organized crime. After gaining independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the CA states started to reform their political systems in accordance with universally accepted principals of democracy. These principles, including respect for human rights, and the supremacy of international law, were written into the national constitutions. The process of establishing political systems based on institutions and processes of democratic governance in CA seemed to have been largely completed by the middle of 1990s. Thus, it seems that the CA countries responded to the first challenge of the conceptual framework making up democratic governance successfully. Therefore, while the CA states successfully created institutions of democratic governance, they failed to fully execute the second challenge to accept democracy as the dominating governing principle. While all CA regimes tend to focus on issues of internal and external stability, security, they choose to either completely ignore or pay minimal attention to problems of democratization. The challenge that CA scholars and policymakers face is the issue of combining universal democratic standards with specifics of developing democratic models that would be appropriate, acceptable in political cultures of the CA nations, but at the same time would remain true to universal standards of democratic development.

For those following democratization efforts in both North America and Central Asia, the past year has been a strange tour of unexpected developments. The United States’ democratic credentials — especially as embodied by its current executive, who routinely demonizes media and the judicial branch alike — have clearly eroded.

Between spending the past few years decimating the country’s remaining opposition— as well as their lawyers—and entrenching rank nepotism, Tajikistan’s done nothing to bolster its democratic credentials since 2014. The picture within the EIU’s report is a bleak one, especially as it pertains to the state of democratic affairs in Central Asia. It is a strange, unexpected turn when Uzbekistan presents a liberalizing regime while the United States regresses into flawed democracy. The US and the EU quickly established diplomatic relations with all the CA republics that emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union.

In the last quarter of the twentieth century, democratic issues made headway in the international context. Democracy became a widely recognized principle for effective and legitimate rule that can be dismissed only at the risk of international isolation and loss of reputation at home and abroad. Democracy promotion is a type of political influence whereby an actor—a state, an international organization, or one’s own government—attempts to induce other states or its own society to accept the norms, beliefs, and policies favored by this actor.

Three states in CA marked declines in the 2018 Nations in Transit report; but Uzbekistan logged its first improvement since 2005. Democracy is in retreat in much of the former Soviet Union, 27 years after its collapse. Freedom House’s annual Nations in Transit report marks democratic declines in 19 of the 29 countries included in the survey, the most in its 23-year history.

A quick note on methodology before diving into CA’s scores. The Nations in Transit report features reports on each included nation which discuss seven categories — national democratic governance, electoral process, civil society, independent media, local democratic governance, judicial framework and independence and corruption — which reflect on a country’s overall democratic atmosphere. A score of 1 to 7 is given for each category, with lower scores indicating higher levels of democratic progress. In sum, a lower score is reflective of a more democratic country. Estonia scored the best in the survey, at 1.82 and Turkmenistan the worst, at 6.96. Three states in Central Asia marked declines in the 2018 report and Turkmenistan remained stagnant. Uzbekistan, however, recorded an improvement for the first time since 2005. The country that made a significant break with its past in 2017 was Uzbekistan. In 2017, president Shavkat Mirziyoyev took steps to improve the atmosphere for discussion and debate in the country. Uzbekistan consequently earned its first score improvements in Nations in Transit since the 2005 edition[19].

Live debates on TV and mass media appeared for the first time in the history. “The country ultimately registered just quarter-point increases in two categories that had reached the absolute bottom in the Nations in Transit methodology,” the report notes. International emitters such as Radio Liberty/RFEL are accredited in Uzbekistan opening a wide opportunities for the discussions of the socio-political content.

Kazakhstan recorded a decline, to 6.71, in part due to worsening civil society conditions — harassment of activists, journalists, lawyers, social media users, and religious communities — and negative changes in the realm of judicial systems. Tajikistancontinued its backward democratic march with its seventh consecutive year of decline — its score now sits at 6.79. Turkmenistan remained stagnant democratically, with a score of 6.96. Turkmenistan has posted scores of 7(the absolute bottom) in five of the seven categories — electoral process, civil society, independent media, national democratic governance and judicial framework— since at least 2004[20]. Uzbekistan has the lowest indictors of the convicts among the countries of the world. This has been attested by the Akhmed Shaheen, special rapporteur of UN on human rights and the issues of religions and faith. Uzbekistan having 137 convicts per 100 thousand people has the lowest level among the countries of the world[21].

Internationally, Uzbekistan actively advocates the rights of youth. The country initiated the preparation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Youth, aimed at developing and implementing the youth policy in the context of globalization. Uzbekistan has also initiated the UN General Assembly Special Resolution “Education and Religious Tolerance” with the view to promote tolerance and mutual respect, ensure religious freedom, protect the rights of believers and prevent discrimination. In conclusion of the dialogue, the High Commissioner, addressing students on the eve of Youth Day of Uzbekistan- June 30, stressed: “Happiness in life doesn’t come from thinking only about yourself”[22].

In Turkmenistan since 2015, six deputy prime ministers have held exclusive responsibility for the implementation of socioeconomic development in rural areas through the National Program for the Transformation of Social and Living Conditions in Villages, Towns, District Cities and District Centers through 2020[23]. The formal right to assemble is guaranteed by both the September 2016 constitution and a law “on gatherings” that first came into effect in July 2015. The law allows for peaceful gatherings to take place, but they must be approved in advance and are not allowed to take place anywhere near government buildings and other locations determined by the state. The Law On the Ombudsman Statute that went into effect on January 1, 2017, grants the ombudsman extensive powers, including the freedom to collect information, carry out unannounced visits to public institutions, participate in legal regulations, contact international human rights organizations and establish regional contact points.

Political transformation, political participation, rule of law, stability of democratic institution, political and social integration, economic transformation, level of socioeconomic development, organization of the market and competition, currency and price stability private, property, welfare regime, economic performance, sustainability, governance, consensus-building, international Cooperation, corrupt social relations, a culture of rudeness and rent-based economic system – all that can be described as “Soviet syndrome” and they are being tackled. Other faiths (Russian Orthodoxy, Judaism, Protestantism and Catholicism) exist in a tolerant atmosphere among the overwhelming Muslim population. On December 12, the General Assembly of the United Nations resolution A/RES/73/128 on Enlightenment and Religious tolerance was issued without a vote on the basis of proposal of Uzbekistan[24]. After the inauguration of President Mirziyoyev, pm.gov.uz site was transformed to a virtual receiving room of the president which is quite illustrative and may be a promising novelty in the overall state system of protection of civil rights. As of December 15, 2018 more than 2.450837 addresses were processed by the presidential administration of Uzbekistan[25]. NGOs as the Mahalla Foundation, Sog’lom avlod Foundation, the Association of Business Women, the ECOSAN, the Association of the Disabled, the Federation of Trade Unions, the Association of Doctors, and so on, mediate between specific social groups and the political system, by representing certain societal interests[26]. Starting from the November 2018 the new political party is being established out of the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan.

In the Tashkent international conference “The role of women in the democratic renewal and modernization of the country: the experience of Uzbekistan and international practice” the wide range of matters aimed at addressing issues of gender equality, increasing women’s role and opportunities in public administration and social protection of women were discussed. Increasing the socio-political activity of women, strengthening their role in government and society, ensuring the employment of women, graduates of vocational colleges, their widespread involvement in entrepreneurship and further strengthening the foundations of the family is set forth as a priority task in the Actions Strategy for 2017-2021. Expanding the role of women in public administration is also a key element of the national Sustainable Development Goal No.5. On October 20, 2018, the Government of Uzbekistan adopted a Resolution “On Measures for the Implementation of National Goals and Objectives in the Field of Sustainable Development for the Period until 2030”. Task 5.5. stipulates that it is necessary to “ensure the full and effective participation of women and equal opportunities for them to lead at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life”. Having a critical mass of women in leadership and decision-making positions is positive for human development in all countries. The world practice shows that increasing the representation of women in public administration leads to the fact that legislation is developed considering gender factors, the participation of women in politics suggests that the daily issues of women also begin to rise in parliamentary debates.

Conference participants also acknowledged the need to develop set of measures to create jobs for girls and women with disabilities, scientific, technical and national creativity among women, discuss partnerships and sign memorandums between the Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan and the main government and non-governmental organizations organizations that deal with women’s issues in Central Asia and other developed countries will be the focus of attention Conference Cove. These activities coincide with the Agenda 5- Gender equality aim of the SDG.

Conclusion and recommendations. To sum up, the data analyzed in the article shows that the European organizations are the most accepted organizations in Central Asia, besides to their North American and Russian counterparts indicating that these institutions play equidistant role vis-à-vis non-European establishments. Here the essential role could also be played by the international development agencies from the international community. These findings enhance the significance of the human development functioning in the CA countries, and the need for further reforms in the region underlining the successes achieved.

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