Head of Department,
Development Strategy Centre of Uzbekistan
In recent years, consistent efforts have been made to support non-governmental, non-profit organizations and other civil society institutions, strengthen the social partnership between them and state bodies, implement effective public control, and improve the legal framework regulating this area. Indeed, civil society institutions form the basis of a legal, democratic and social state.
In particular, for the first time in our country, to define its prospects for the near and medium term, there has been approved the concept of development of civil society in 2021-2025 and determined the tasks for further improvement of the regulatory legal framework, which provides legal guarantees of non-governmental, non-profit organizations, meets modern democratic requirements and international standards. The document sets the task of increasing the amount of state support to civil society institutions through subsidies, grants and social orders by 1.8 times in 2025 and increasing the number of allocated funds to 70 billion soums.
It is noteworthy that several legal documents aimed at strengthening the role and importance of civil society institutions and solving the most important socio-economic problems of citizens have been adopted in our country. However, this institution has no constitutional status in the current Constitution.
If we pay attention to the numbers, as of January 1, 1991, 95 NGOs were operating in the republic. By January 1, 2000, their number was 2,585. As of January 1, 2016 – 8,417, there are 9,104.
It should be noted that civil society institutions, non-governmental non-commercial organizations, and “think tank” experts actively participated in introducing amendments and additions to the Constitution and expressed several proposals and attitudes.
In the new draft of the Constitution, the guarantee of civil society institutions’ rights and legal interests in the Republic of Uzbekistan is being strengthened. In the draft of the Constitutional Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan, there is being added a separate chapter, “Civil Society Institutions”.
Also, in Article 69 of the draft constitutional law, a norm is being introduced that civil society institutions, including public associations and other non-governmental non-profit organizations, citizens’ self-management bodies, and mass media form the basis of civil society.
What are the amendments and additions related to the civil society institutions in the draft of the new version of the Constitution?
First, the chapter entitled “civil society institutions” and this locution is included in the draft constitutional law for the first time.
Second, NGOs, mahallas, and mass media are listed among civil society institutions.
Third, the Cabinet of Ministers is tasked with implementing measures to support civil society institutions, ensuring their participation in developing and implementing socio-economic development and social partnership programs.
Fourth, it is determined that the state will create conditions for implementing public control in urban planning activities to ensure citizens’ ecological rights and prevent harmful environmental effects.
Fifth, civil society institutions are empowered to exercise public control over the formation and execution of the budget of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
These guarantees are also strengthened in international legal documents and constitutions of developed countries. In particular, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report dated April 11, 2016, entitled “Practical recommendations for creating and maintaining a safe and comfortable environment for civil society activities based on best practices and lessons learned”, recommends strengthening civil society and its institutions at the legislative level. The term civil society is also enshrined in the constitutions of Azerbaijan, Slovenia and some other countries.
The introduction of this norm serves to ensure at the constitutional level the rights and legal interests of important institutional structures that form the basis of civil society for their effective operation and development and the increase of their role in the life of society.
In general, the introduced changes and additions increase the role and importance of civil society institutions further to strengthen the constitutional and legal basis of their activity.