Civil society

Institutions of civil society and human rights

Today in Uzbekistan there is an understanding that on specific personalities and specific individuals depends entirely a target orientation, dynamism and impact of reform processes. Depending on what kind of person he or she will be in a short term, what spiritual, cultural and moral values will be he guided​​, depends an overall success of the reforms, future of our country. The challenge is to create such a state-legal mechanism that would guarantee equal initial opportunities for all people to discover and realize their potential and to meet their needs.

In Uzbekistan, established a large number of social groups of citizens, many of which have their own regional and local offices, possess a number of rights and responsibilities allowing them to actively participate in the reform of society. Given the importance of human rights issue, solution of which is not only responsibility of the state but also of society in general, challenge is to focus attention and efforts of non-governmental organizations on the issue, to focus their activities on implementation of a permanent social monitoring of observance of human rights by public bodies and officials of any rank.

Civil society is the society of conscious individuals who are actively involved in addressing social policy objectives, where rule the law precluding arbitrariness and state intervention, where citizens and the state act on the basis of partnership. Although the Constitution does not define a civil society, it secured the legal basis for creation and operation of civil society institutions and defined principles of their interaction with the state.

The Constitution establishes the following:

- social associations of citizens (trade unions, political parties and other civic associations) must be registered in a manner prescribed by the law;

- unacceptable creation and activity of political parties and other public associations encroaching on constitutional order, sovereignty, integrity and security of the country, constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, advocating war, social, national, racial and religious hatred, health and morals of the people, and paramilitary associations, political parties based on ethnic and religious grounds , secret societies and associations;

- social associations have equal legal opportunities to participate in public life, the state enforces provision of their rights and legitimate interests;

- public authorities and officials shall not interfere in the activities of social associations, and the latter do not interfere in activity of state bodies and officials;

- political parties are required to submit to the Oliy Majlis or the authorized agency the public reports on their financial sources ;

- the state does not interfere in the activities of religious organizations;

- dissolution, prohibition or restriction of activities of social associations may take place only on the basis of a court decision ;

- the media is free and act in accordance with the law, censorship is not allowed;

- procedure for election, organization of activities and powers of self-government bodies are regulated by law.

The above-mentioned constitutional principles of civil society institutions received expression in the following legislation: "On Social Associations", "On non-governmental non-commercial organizations", " On social funds" , "On political parties", "On financing of political parties", "On self-governance bodies of citizens", "On Trade Unions", "On mass media", "On professional activities of journalists ","On freedom of conscience and religious organizations", etc.

To date, the Ministry of Justice and its structural divisions at the sites implement the state registration of 1587 NGOs and record registration of 3446 NGOs.

Step forward in many countries is to resume the former practice of advisory councils in the executive branch. Tasks of such councils is to provide the executive bodies with recommendations on specific issues.

Public authorities are increasingly developing and expanding cooperation with both NGOs and other civil society institutions. Virtually each public body created its own system and mechanism of cooperation with NGOs in the field of human rights.

For example, the National Human Rights Centre establishes and maintains close contacts with non-governmental organizations and social groups that are directly or indirectly involved in the promotion and protection of human rights. There are several important reasons for the above. First, support of these bodies is extremely useful to promote the Centre’s activities through raising public awareness of its existence. Non-governmental organizations often initiate efforts to improve the activities of the National Human Rights Centre. Such links are used to highlight activities of the Centre and to ensure public support of its work.

Second, practical reason why the National Centre collaborates with NGOs is that persons most vulnerable to human rights violations often do not seek to establish contacts with a formal body while submitting complaints or looking for legal assistance. In such cases, NGOs can act as an intermediary link between the victims of violations and the National Human Rights Centre. NGOs can also provide support and information necessary for promotion of personal contact of citizens with the Centre.

Third, non-governmental organizations possess certain knowledge and characteristics that make them ideal partners in efforts to create a national environment promoting a respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Because of their higher operational flexibility, NGOs are often able to provide the National Centre with a detailed information about the human rights situation in the country and on the structural or legislative gaps and draw Centre’s attention to social or other changes. Such information can be used to inform and guide the Centre in trying to maximize the level of its importance and effectiveness. Information can be provided in each case or this process can be formalized through regular (formal or informal) consultations.

Finally, non-governmental organizations involved in cooperation as useful partners in individual projects and programs. Education, professional training and dissemination of information are particularly promising areas of cooperation and joint action. Any organization that has the expertise can be attracted by the Centre for a specific study.

It should be noted that the National Human Rights Centre of Uzbekistan, in turn, contributes to the improvement of activities of NGOs by giving them every assistance in improving their competence in the field of human rights through:

- conduct of special seminars and training sessions for NGOs ;

- bringing them to participate in informative events on human rights held for law enforcement agencies;

- monitoring of human rights legislation in participation of NGOs;

- integrating them as performers in the National Plans of Action to implement the recommendations of the UN Committees on review of national reports on the implementation of international obligations of Uzbekistan in the field of human rights;

- obtaining of information on observance of human rights for its inclusion in the national reports of Uzbekistan in the field of human rights;

- conduct of joint outreach activities aimed at improving the education level of population on human rights, etc.

It is necessary to emphasize that the National Human Rights Centre does not limit cooperation with the non-governmental organizations by any one area of ​​activity. Since the Centre is involved in virtually all categories of human rights, its interaction with civil society institutions has broad and comprehensive nature.

However, given the fact that the Republic of Uzbekistan focuses on protecting the rights of vulnerable groups (women, children, elderly, disabled persons, etc.), the most stable relations of the Centre are developing with women and children non-governmental organizations, and also non-state actors involved in issues of disabled persons and elderly citizens.