STATEMENT BY THE HEAD OF THE DELEGATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF UZBEKISTAN H.E., Prof., Amb. AKMAL SAIDOV, First Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan, Director of the National Centre for Human Rights AT THE HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT OF THE 55th SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL 26-29 February 2024 GENEVA


Distinguished Chairperson!

Distinguished High Commissioner for Human Rights!

Dear Heads of delegations!

Ladies and gentlemen!

It is a great honor and privilege for me to speak at the UN Human Rights Council session this year, which marks the 45th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 40th anniversary of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and 35th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Human Rights 75 Initiative

Last year international community has marked the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on Human Rights.

The universal importance of human rights has been amply demonstrated over the past 75 years of the Universal Declaration. Sustainable development, peace and security are all impossible without this.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”. This profound statement reminds us of the fundamental link between human rights, democracy, peace and security.

Marking the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Uzbekistan has become an active participant in global commemorative events. Moreover, the National program for the widespread celebration of the Universal Declaration was approved by the President of Uzbekistan.

As part of this effort, various events are being organized, including International Forum on Youth Rights with the participation of youth from Central Asian. The Forum resulted in the adoption of the Central Asian Declaration on Youth Rights, which is being submitted to OHCHR as part of the High-level event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We have made significant progress in our cooperation with UN human rights structures over the past short period of time. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk conducted official visit to the country in March of last year.

Following the visit, the Parliament adopted the Roadmap containing concrete measures to implement the High Commissioner’s recommendations.

Last November, the UPR Working Group of the UN HRC reviewed Fourth periodical report of Uzbekistan.

We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Member States and OHCHR for their constructive co-operation and the recommendations provided.

New Uzbekistan and Human Rights

New Uzbekistan prioritizes human rights at the heart of its reforms, impacting political, legal, and socio-economic aspects.

Uzbekistan is committed to maintaining close cooperation with the UN Member States and all international partners in order to promote the United Nations initiative “A Call to Action for Human Rights”.

We express our gratitude for the active support of the international initiatives of Uzbekistan on the adoption of resolution of the UN General Assembly “Central Asia Facing Environmental Challenges: Fostering Regional Solidarity for Sustainable Development and Prosperity”, as well as the resolution of the Human Rights Council on “Ensuring quality education for peace and tolerance for every child”.

I would like to inform you about the priorities for further deepening reforms in the field of the rule of law, democracy and human rights in Uzbekistan.

Last year in April, Uzbekistan marked a historic milestone by conducting its first national referendum on the new Constitution, which determined the priorities of national development.

The New Constitution outlines the “five pillars” that characterize the New Uzbekistan: sovereign, democratic, legal, social and secular state, defining the path of development and the future of the country, which “will never change.”

The human rights provisions in our new Constitution are fully in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments. We are grateful to the OHCHR for their comments and suggestions on improving the new Constitution.

The Constitution confirms commitment to the principles of human rights, freedom of speech and conscience, as well as the equality of all citizens, irrespective of their ethnicity, language, or religion.

Uzbekistan has formally prohibited the use of the death penalty in its recently adopted new Constitution. Our country advocates the abolition of the death penalty, including through active work at the global and regional level, in particular, at the UN Human Rights Council. Notably. We supported the initiative to transform the Central Asian countries and Mongolia to become a region entirely free from the use of capital punishment.

Internationally recognized institutions of jurisprudence as the Miranda Warnings and Habeas Corpus are consolidated at the constitutional level. The Pro bono institute, which provides free legal assistance has been granted constitutional status.

Notably, for the first time, the Constitution guarantees the right to approach both international and national human rights bodies.

Furthermore, it firmly establishes the status of national human rights institutions within the constitutional level (article 56), setting a precedent in the Asian region.

The new Constitution for the first time enshrines the institution of constitutional complaints from citizens. Uzbekistan is actively fulfilling its international commitments by enhancing access to justice for its citizens and reforming its legal and judicial frameworks. A short-term Strategy for raising the judicial system and Action Plan were approved.

In recent years, we have achieved substantial results in the human rights protection in Uzbekistan. Forced and child labor has been completely abolished in our country. Particularly, the complete eradication of forced and child labor has been achieved.

The new Constitution of the country now not only ensures the prohibition of child and forced labor but also institutes criminal liability for such offenses. We believe that it is necessary to intensify the global fight against forced and child labor. Our experience shows that it is feasible to eradicate these practices.

Furthermore, Uzbekistan has enacted a separate law aimed at protecting women and juveniles from violence. This law has received widespread international support, including from the UN, EU, OSCE and human rights institutions.

Uzbekistan remains steadfast in its commitment to aligning national legislation and law enforcement practices with international human rights standards. Comprehensive evaluations focused on gender, human rights, and anti-corruption are conducted on all regulatory legal acts and their drafts.

The Strategy “Uzbekistan – 2030”

In 2023, based on this foundation, the Strategy “Uzbekistan – 2030” was adopted. This Strategy is consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Uzbekistan is always willing to engage in practical dialogue with the UN and its institutions as well as broad and mutually beneficial cooperation with all countries around the world.

As part of the commitments undertaken, we are implementing the National Human Rights Strategy. During the previous triennium, we have achieved the following milestones:

First. According to the recommendations of the HRC and UN treaty bodies, the position of the Children’s Ombudsman was established. Now our parliament is adopting Law on the Children’s Ombudsman.

Second. In order to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, legal and administrative measures have been taken to improve the system of state support for persons with disabilities. We have submitted our Initial report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which prepared with broad participation of relevant civil society institutions. 

Third. The national parliament approved the Strategy for Achieving Gender Equality until 2030 with the participation of civil society institutions. The National Action Plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution No. 1325 “Women, Peace and Security” is being implemented.

Fourth. Uzbekistan openly condemns the use of torture. The President emphasized the absolute inadmissibility of torture, as well as the inevitability of responsibility for torture. Torture and other types of violence are prohibited at the constitutional and legislative levels.  The country has adopted both institutional and legal mechanism to strengthen human rights protection, incorporating the Nelson Mandela Rules into our legal system and practice. Amendments have been made to the Civil Code to provide for the procedure for compensation for harm caused to victims of torture, which will make it possible to provide social, legal, psychological and medical assistance to victims of torture.

Fifth. According to the recommendations of the UN treaty bodies, the National Preventive Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture was created according to the “Ombudsman Plus” model. Additionally, Children’s Ombudsman, the National Center for Human Rights, and the Business Ombudsman have been empowered to oversee penitentiary institutions.

Sixth. Uzbekistan actively participates in the UN World Programme for Human Rights Education. The country is implementing the National Programme for Human Rights Education. Training and special courses “Human Rights”, “Women’s Rights”, “Child’s Rights” are being introduced in the system of professional education and universities. Training courses are being opened on the rights of persons with disabilities, women, children and migrants. An Electronic Platform for Human Rights Education has been launched.

Furthermore, permanent training courses on combating the use of torture have been launched for law enforcement officers and penitentiary institutions. There are a number of educational events planned in cooperation with the OHCHR, HELP Programme of the Council of Europe and OSCE/ODIHR.

Seventh. Collaboration with business structures on human rights issues is essential as well. Particularly, human rights training courses for entrepreneurs are organized. The National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights is currently being developed.

Eight. The country is implementing consistent reforms in the political, judicial and legal spheres, increasing the role of civil society institutions, including on religious freedom. Uzbekistan places utmost emphasis on ensuring religious freedom within its borders, recognizing its historical experience of harmonious coexistence among diverse faiths and ethnic communities over the centuries.

Throughout its long history, Uzbekistan’s territory has been a home to a multitude of religions and belief. Traditional faiths in our nation have always coexisted peacefully. This harmony is not just a legacy, but a fundamental element of our traditions.

Ninth. The Election code has been modified to outline the process for conducting elections for the Legislative Chamber using a mixed electoral system that combines majority and proportional elements. Under this system, political parties are required to secure a minimum of 7% of the votes from participating voters, which translates to five deputy seats. Furthermore, there are adjustments being implemented to raise the minimum representation of women in the candidate nominations from political parties, increasing it from 30% to 40% of the total candidates.

Tenth. Currently, the world is facing a critical environmental situation. The triple planetary crisis – crises of the climate change, the loss of biodiversity and the environmental contamination are worsening. In such challenging conditions, while Central Asia continues to grapple with the Aral Sea tragedy, the region is becoming one of the most vulnerable parts of the world in the face of climate change. Uzbekistan is doing its best to mitigate the consequences of the Aral Sea tragedy, which remains a global problem.

This June, in collaboration with the UN OHCHR and the OSCE/ODIHR, we are hosting the Fourth Samarkand forum focused on climate change and human rights and we take this opportunity to invite to this Forum.

Distinguished Members,

As Eleanor Roosevelt 75 years ago wisely said, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home”. Our efforts must start at the grassroots level, ensuring that every community has a voice in shaping the future of universal human rights for all.

Uzbekistan is always willing to engage in practical dialogue with the UN and its institutions as well as broad and mutually beneficial cooperation with all countries around the world.

We have made significant progress in our interactions with the UN Special Procedures in a relatively short period of time. We have extended a standing invitation to all mandate holders to visit our country. This year we are expecting the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Dr. Alice Edwards.

We are also preparing measures to commemorate the anniversaries of important international treaties on women’s rights, children’s rights and combatting torture.

It was a pleasure to speak you today and I wish you a productive session.

Thank you.

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