Uzbekistan’s 30 April constitutional referendum is set to get the results that country needs, writes Ambassador Dilyor Khakimov

Uzbekistan’s 30 April constitutional referendum is set to get the results that country needs, writes Ambassador Dilyor Khakimov

Under President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s leadership, Uzbekistan has engaged in a nationwide dialogue process over the past year, receiving input and feedback from tens of thousands of citizens that led to the drafting of a revised constitution. Recent legislative developments pave the way for this draft to soon be made official, marking a new era for the country.

First, the Legislative Chamber approved the draft constitution for submission to a referendum on April 30th. Then, earlier this week, the Constitutional Court of Uzbekistan subsequently ruled that the decision to hold a referendum was constitutional. Finally, on Tuesday, the Senate confirmed this decision and approved the draft for submission to a constitutional referendum. This means that in just over six weeks, the citizens of Uzbekistan will weigh in on the most significant additions and updates to the country’s constitution in over thirty years.

The referendum will be a landmark event in our modern political history, as it will decide if citizens agree with President Mirziyoyev’s comprehensive reform program, which seeks to establish Uzbekistan as a sovereign, democratic, legal, social, and secular state with a republican form of government. It will also commit the country to greater protections for human rights, democratic values, and equality within Uzbekistan’s diverse multi-faith and multi-ethnic population. In addition, the reforms aim to strengthen the rule of law, democratic representation, and civil society, as well as support economic development and environmental protections.

The priority of the reform process was to strengthen guarantees for citizens’ basic personal rights and freedoms. The proposed text establishes that human rights and freedoms belong to everyone from birth, including freedom of speech, media, and assembly. For the first time, the constitution will stipulate that human rights and freedoms may only be restricted in accordance with the law and only to the extent necessary to protect the constitutional order, public safety, and the rights and freedoms of others, while ensuring public health and morals. The constitution will also enshrine the principle of habeas corpus and create a single legal space throughout the country.

At the economic level, the constitutional amendments support fair competition, private property rights, and a favorable investment and business climate. The government will have responsibility for ensuring sustainable economic growth, macroeconomic stability, and measures to reduce poverty and ensure food security. The constitution also recognizes the importance of protecting the environment, including the vulnerable Aral Sea, and the country’s natural resources.

The proposed new constitution includes 155 articles and 434 norms, compared to the current document’s 128 articles and 275 norms. The number of specific provisions on human rights and freedoms has more than tripled, and 65% of the existing constitution has been changed. All of these amendments have been developed in line with international laws and best practices.

They represent a transformation toward what we like to call “the New Uzbekistan,” guaranteeing a modern democratic state that prioritises every person’s individual rights and freedoms. Now the citizen comes first – not the state, and that is a significant change from the way the country used to operate. Accordingly, every citizen of Uzbekistan will be able to say, proudly and confidently: ‘This is my Constitution.’

In recent years, Uzbekistan has made significant progress towards a “New Uzbekistan” under President Mirziyoyev’s leadership. Our population has responded very positively to the new approach. Now, with the chance to approve the new Constitution, they will officially become partners in this exciting journey. The proposed new constitution represents a renewed commitment to democratic values and individual rights and freedoms, and on April 30th, the country’s citizens will have the opportunity to vote in a historic moment for Uzbekistan.

The author is the Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the Benelux Countries, and Missions to the EU and NATO.

Image: Hester Dijkstra


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