Constitution of Uzbekistan: A Research Study

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Constitution reflects the collective political wisdom of a country. It stands for fair play, equal rights, social justice and above all democracy in the modern political arenas. It guarantees basic civil rights, freedom and press and association and the last but not the least, rights of the minorities in the country.

The constitution of Uzbekistan stands as a viable legal framework in providing spiritual, social and political progress, and most importantly, sustainable economic development and welfare of the people. The rich historical path of development of the Uzbek statehood, modern ideas of constitutional development, universal democratic principles, as well as advanced constitutional experience of developed countries were taken into account in developing the Basic Law in the constitution. It is the basis for stable and sustained development of the country on the path of democratic development, the implementation of the principle ‘From a Strong State to a Strong Civil Society.

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Most recently, Republic of Uzbekistan celebrated its 20th Anniversary of the Constitution. It was adopted in December 1992. Its preamble says the people of the Republic of Uzbekistan, solemnly declaring their commitment to human rights and the principles of state sovereignty, aware of their ultimate responsibility to the present and the future generations, relying on historical experience in the development of Uzbek statehood. It affirms their commitment to the ideals of democracy and social justice, recognizing priority of the generally accepted norms of the international law, aspiring to a worthy life for the citizens of the Republic. It sets forth the task of creating a humane and democratic rule of law, aiming to ensure civil peace and national accord, represented by their plenipotentiary deputies adopts the present Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Salient Features

Uzbekistan’s constitution is forward looking and pragmatic. It has been played an important role in the overall socio-economic and geo-political transformation since its inception. Its content and the essential features are determined primarily by the fact that it regulates the most important public relations between citizens, society and the state. It establishes the foundations of the constitutional system, the principles of organization of state power. It is the foundation upon which rests the legal and political system, the system of the protection of the rights, freedoms and lawful interests of individuals. Following are given some of its salient features.

Parts Description Details/Articles
Part One
Chapter 1 Fundamental Principles State Sovereignty Uzbekistan is a sovereign democratic republic. The state shall express the will of the people and serve their interests. It consists of sic articles
Chapter 2 Democracy The people are the sole source of state power. All citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan, regardless of their nationality, constitute the people of Uzbekistan. It has eight articles.
Chapter 3 Supremacy of the constitution and the law
The Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall have absolute supremacy in the Republic of Uzbekistan. None of the provisions of the present Constitution shall be interpreted in a way detrimental to the rights and interests of the Republic of Uzbekistan. It has two articles.
Chapter 4 Foreign Policy
The Republic of Uzbekistan shall have full rights in international relations. Its foreign policy shall be based on the principles of sovereign equality of the states, non-use of force or threat of its use, inviolability of frontiers, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and other universally recognized norms of international law. There is only one article to explain the importance and priorities of its foreign policy

Part Two Basic Human and civil rights, freedoms and duties

Chapter 5 General Provisions All citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall have equal rights and freedoms, and shall be equal before the law, without distinction by sex, race, nationality, language, religion, social origin, convictions, individual and social status. It consists of three comprehensive articles.
Chapter 6 Citizenship In the Republic of Uzbekistan, uniform citizenship shall be established throughout its territory. Citizenship in the Republic of Uzbekistan shall be equal for all regardless of the grounds of its acquisition. Total articles are three.
Chapter 7
Personal Rights and Freedoms The right to exist is the inalienable right of every human being. Attempts on anyone’s life shall be regarded as the gravest crime. It contains 8 articles.
Chapter 8 Political Rights All citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall have the right to participate in the management and administration of public and state affairs, both directly and through representation. They may exercise this right by way of self-government, referenda, and the democratic formation of state bodies. Articles 32-35.
Chapter 9 Economic and Social Rights Everyone shall have the right to own property. Everyone shall have the right to work, including the right to choose their occupation. Articles 36-42.
Chapter 10
Guarantees of Human Rights And Freedoms The state shall safeguard the rights and freedoms of citizens proclaimed by the Constitution and laws. Articles 43-46.
Chapter 11 Duties of Citizens All citizens shall perform the duties established by the Constitution. Articles.47-52.

Part Three Society and the Individual

Chapter 12 The Economic Foundation of Society The economy of Uzbekistan, evolving towards market relations, is based on various forms of ownership. The state shall guarantee freedom of economic activity, entrepreneurship and labor with due regard for the priority of consumer’s rights, as well as equality and legal protection of all forms of ownership. Articles. 53-55.
Chapter 13
Public Associations
Trade unions, political parties, and scientific societies, as well as women’s, veterans and youth leagues, professional associations, mass movements and other organizations registered in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law, shall have the status of public associations in the Republic of Uzbekistan. Articles.56-62.
Chapter 14 The Family
The family is the primary unit of society and shall have the right to state and societal protection. Articles.63-66.
Chapter 15 The Mass Media
The mass media shall be free and act in accordance with the law. It shall bear responsibility for trustworthiness of information in a prescribed manner.

Part Four Administrative and territorial structure and state system

Chapter 16 Administrative and territorial structure of the republic of Uzbekistan The Republic of Uzbekistan shall consist of regions, districts, cities, towns, settlements, kishlaks and auls (villages) in Uzbekistan and the Republic of Karakalpakstan. Articles.68-69.
Chapter 17 The Republic of Karakalpakstan The sovereign Republic of Karakalpakstan is part of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Articles.70-75.

Part Five Organization of State Authority

Chapter 18 Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan The highest state representative body is the Oliy Majlis (the Supreme Assembly) of the Republic of Uzbekistan. It exercises legislative power. Articles.76-89 with lots of sub-clauses.
Chapter 19 The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan is head of state and executive authority in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan simultaneously serves as Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers. Articles.89-97.
Chapter 20 The Cabinet of Ministers The Cabinet of Ministers shall be formed by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan and approved by the Oliy Majlis.
Chapter 21 Fundamental Principles of Local Bodies of State Authority The Soviets of People’s Deputies led by khokims are the representative bodies of authority in regions, districts, cities and towns, except in towns subordinate to district centers, and city districts. They shall act upon all matters within their authority, in accordance with the interests of the state and citizens. Articles.99-105.
Chapter 22 Judicial Authority in the Republic of Uzbekistan The judicial authority in the Republic of Uzbekistan shall function independently from the legislative and executive branches, political parties, and public organizations. Articles.106-116.
Chapter 23 The Electoral System All citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan are guaranteed the equal right to vote. Every citizen shall have only one vote. Any citizen shall be eligible for election to public office.
Chapter 24 The Procurator’s Office The Procurator-General of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the procurator subordinate to him shall supervise the strict and uniform observance of the laws in the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Articles. 118-121.
Chapter 25 Finance And Crediting The Republic of Uzbekistan shall have independent financial, monetary, and credit systems. Articles 122-124.
Chapter 26 Defense and Security The Armed Forces of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall be formed to defend the state sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as the peaceful life and security of its citizens. Articles 125-126.
Part Six Procedure for Amending the Constitution The Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall be amended by laws, passed by at least 2/3rds of the deputies of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic.
Source: Constitution of Uzbekistan

It is crystal clear from the above table that the constitution has provided a legal foundation of building a democratic state with market economy and civil society in the country. Progressive constitution of Uzbekistan facilitated all the important organs the state to achieve the desired goals of socio-economic transformation, gradual economic liberalization and development of a vibrant civil society.

It guaranteed qualitative life, sustainable economic growth, diversified economy and steady democratic transition in the country. Due to which, Uzbekistan’s economy has developed more than 3.5 percent and the GDP 2.5 times. Moreover, despite the ongoing global economic recession and financial crunch, Uzbekistan maintained GDP not less than 8.2 percent during 2008-2012. According to the Asian Development Bank (2011) during the last three years the incomes of the country’s population have grown three-fold.

Constitutional Development and Unique Economic Uzbek Model

Many research studies reveal that there is strong/direct correlation between the politics and economics in which constitution always plays very important role. Political stability assures economic stability. Constitutional steady development brings socio-economic and geo-political sustainability. Constitutional provisions halt any political or administrative deadlock. The constitution of Uzbekistan facilitates and removes all ambiguities.

In order to get rid of the burden and legacy of the totalitarian past, Uzbekistan adopted new constitution after its independence. Its various concepts defined the fundamental principles and strategic priorities of the state in the international arena and stands as a logical continuation of the strategy carried out by Uzbekistan since the first years of independence. Every sphere of life, political system, business sector and field of macro-economy along with guidance to foreign policy, diplomacy and the last but not the least defence policy has been pursued in the provisions of the constitution.

Uzbekistan’s economic model consists of five parts i.e. economy is free from any ideological bias and holds higher-priority over politics; the state is the main reformer; the principle of the rule of law; strong social policy; gradual mode in operating and implementing the reforms. Making a start from these principles, Uzbekistan began to construct the basis for its state and public formation. The adoption of the Constitution of Uzbekistan, at the earliest possible date, played a large and significant role in this process. The Constitution identified one of the main principles of the country’s development, which is the separation of the government on legislative, executive and judicial boards. Each branch of government has undergone through radical changes over the past years. They continue to evolve, these days, according to the needs of our time.

In November 2010 the honorable President Islam Karimov presented a concept of further deepening democratic reforms, forming civil society and further development of market reforms and economic liberalization. Earlier in 2005, the leadership of Uzbekistan initiated the first phase of democratic reform and as a first step the Referendum was held to approve the formation of bicameral parliament. The research analysis of the multi-party system in Uzbekistan shows that in the years of independence, it created a comprehensive legislative framework that provides the conditions for broad social and political activities of political parties. The legislative framework allows the factions of political parties more effectively represent the interests of their electorate, to participate actively in addressing major public issues.

The government of Uzbekistan under the supervision of President Islam Karimov introduced many short and long term reforms which are now paying the dividends. Reforms in the legislative branch, the separation of powers, human rights and the legal system and freedom of press and mass media are the few distinctive legal measures in the country. Nurturing NGOs and other societal institutions, furtherance of education on research and technology and the last but not the least administrative law are the salient features of its constitution.
Throughout this period, great success was achieved in democratic reforms in Uzbekistan. Due to which freedom of elections was fully ensured and elections legislation is constantly improved in the country. Voter turnout and progress if multi part political system are the main characteristics of Uzbekistan.

(a) To further strengthening of democratic transition and implementation of the concept of evolutionary development, de-ideologization of the economy have been followed. Gradual democratic reforms, ensuring rule of law, recognition of a regulatory role of state as a principal reformer, implementation of the strong social policies with due consideration of specific peculiarities have been institutionalized. Because it is must for achieving the modern democratic requirements and creation of a political system based on the principles of checks and balances, separation of functions and powers of legislative, executive and judicial branches of power, as well as reinforcing the role of political parties.

(b) Creation of effective horizontal relations and rejection of a centralized planning distributive Soviet system and transition to generally accepted principles of free market economy, securing inviolability of private ownership as a crucial priority of Uzbekistan’s strategic development have been applied. It paved the way of gradual economic liberalization and geo-political transformation in the country. Revolution of pyramids has shown that the strongest authorities vertical without the support of horizontal constant dialogue of the authority and the society can be instantly deformed and destroyed. Therefore, Uzbekistan has rightly adopted horizontal relations because it promoted trustworthiness between the dynasties and dynamics.

(c) Ensuring accelerated and rapid development of Small and Medium Enterprises [SMEs] and private entrepreneurship, establishing on this basis the middle class which now stands as the most important and decisive social strata of the society, guarantor of social and political stability and an active driving force along the path of reforms and modernization of the country have been executed. It revolutionized the outlook of the country as well as its people. People become independent and articulated.

(d) Further deepening the democratic reforms and establishing the civil society in the country, adopted by the Parliament in November 2010, is a logical and naturally determined continuation of the process of democratic renewal and modernization launched since the early days of Uzbekistan’s independence. It gave birth to systematic and gradual democratic reforms in the country and created a vibrant civil society.

(e) Long-term national strategy of realization of the paramount priorities of social, political and economic reforms in the conditions of dramatic changes taking place in the world. It envisages more than 50 draft laws and legal acts, and by now the Parliament of the country has adopted 12 laws and more than 30 laws are now being considered and discussed with involvement of a broad public, including foreign expert organizations.

(f) Democratization of state power and governance, the constitution amendments (articles 78, 80, 93, 96, 98)” of 2011 served as the most important document in the sphere of democratization of state power and governance. It is aimed at ensuring more balanced distribution of constitutional authorities among the President, the Head of state, legislative and executive branches of power. It was introduced the institute of vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister; the significant powers were delegated from the President to Senate – the Upper Chamber of the Parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers of the country; the authorities of local legislative councils were considerably expanded.

(g) Systematic provisions have already streamlined the duties and responsibilities, election procedure and other related items. “On elections to the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan” and “On elections to the regional, district and municipal Kengashes of people’s deputies”, as well as the legislative acts on reforming and liberalization of the judicial system and expanding the sphere of application of Habeas corpus institute, implementation of the provisions of the Concept in the sphere of reforming the information system and ensuring freedom of speech, in particular, in the system of information and communication technologies and television, which play a decisive role in political modernization of the country.

(h) Social participation, transparency, accountability: “On normative-legal acts”, “On social partnership”, “On public control”, “On transparency of activity of bodies of state power and governance” and other legal acts will stimulate dynamic development of civil society, strengthening of its role in protecting constitutional rights and interests of people, transparency of activity of governing structures and informing the population about administrative decision making.

(i)
“On protection of private ownership and guarantees of proprietors’ rights” which secures the key principle of the priority of owners’ rights. From now on all emerging contradictions and ambiguities in the legislation in terms of mutual relations between a proprietor and state bodies must be resolved in favor of the proprietor. “On family entrepreneurship”, “On competition”, “On guarantees of free entrepreneurship” and the decrees of the President adopted on their basis, namely “On measures to further improve business climate and provide more freedom to entrepreneurship” and “On measures to radically cut statistical, tax and financial reports, licensed types of activity and permissive procedures”, as well as other adopted decisions must become a guarantee for a sustainable development, diversification and modernization of the country’s economy and creation for this purpose of a favorable business climate and improvement of the attractiveness of the investment climate in the country.

(j)
The Law “On approval of the Concept of foreign policy activity of the Republic of Uzbekistan” of September 2012, which has drawn a wide response from the international community. It has gather immense appreciation from the regional as well as international community.

Concluding Remarks

Uzbekistan has been taking leading role in introducing and implementing different legal reforms in the country in the CIS. Its constitution reflects the collective wisdom of its rulers and people alike. It promises the basic necessities of life. It assures free education, health and life. It is anti-discriminatory. It is people’s friendly. It is business and investment friendly. It guides all the organs of the state and strengthens democratic transition in the country. It portrays inspirations of its people. It guarantees the fulfillment of all the dreams of its people.

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