ISLAMABAD: Uzbekistan joined the UN as a new sovereign, independent state on March 2, 1992. Since joining this universal international organization, our country has been productively cooperating with it and its specialized institutions in various areas.
The main priorities of multilateral cooperation are the fight against modern threats and security challenges, the stabilization and restoration of Afghanistan, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, solving environmental problems, in particular mitigating the consequences of the Aral Sea crisis, socio-economic development, protection and promotion of human rights, tourism development, and others.
According to experts, in recent years, Uzbekistan has become more involved in the activities of the General Assembly and specialized agencies of the UN. In particular, the head of Uzbekistan made speeches at the 72nd, 75th, and 76th sessions of the UN General Assembly, as well as at the High-Level Segment of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council.
In June 2017, the visit of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and his negotiations with the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, took place. The head of our state also held meetings with the UN Secretary General in September 2017 in New York (USA) and during the 2nd International Forum “One Belt, One Road” in April 2019 in Beijing (PRC). As a result of these meetings, plans for practical measures to develop cooperation between Uzbekistan and the UN were adopted and are being implemented.
The participation of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in the general debates of the 72nd session of the General Assembly in September 2017 opened a new stage of productive and mutually beneficial cooperation between our country and the UN. During this event, a number of important international initiatives were put forward, which have been successfully implemented over the past three years.
From the UN rostrum, the leader of Uzbekistan put forward a number of important international initiatives on current issues on the global and regional agenda. In particular, on the initiative of the leadership of Uzbekistan, six resolutions were developed and adopted within the UN General Assembly: “Strengthening regional international cooperation to ensure peace, stability, and sustainable development in the Central Asian region” (June 2018), “Education and religious tolerance” (December 2018), “Sustainable tourism and development in Central Asia” (December 2019), “On declaring the Aral Sea region a zone of environmental innovation and technology” (May 2021), “On strengthening interconnectedness between Central and South Asia” (July 2022), “On the role of parliaments in achieving the SDGs” (December 2022).
In addition, within the framework of the UN Human Rights Council, at the initiative of Uzbekistan, a resolution was adopted “On the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for the human rights of youth” (October 2021) and at UNESCO – “The Khiva Process” (November 2021) following the results of the international forum “Central Asia at the crossroads of world civilizations” (September 14–16, 2021, Khiva).
The Code on Voluntary Commitments of States during Pandemics, developed by the Uzbek side, has been distributed as an official document of the UN General Assembly as Uzbekistan’s contribution to the global efforts to combat COVID-19. Supporting the new spirit of multilateral interaction, Uzbekistan, together with member countries, is currently developing drafts for a number of General Assembly resolutions for their further adoption within the UN.
Since 1993, the UN office has been operating in Tashkent. In Uzbekistan, the “UN family” is represented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia (UNRCCA), International Labor Organization (ILO) ), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the UN Volunteers Program led by UNDP.
Agencies such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) also contribute to the work of the UN system. The World Bank, as an independent specialized agency of the UN system, also makes a significant contribution to the work of the organization in our country.
The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for Uzbekistan is an effective tool for interaction between the government of Uzbekistan and the international community in the context of the implementation of priority areas of socio-economic development in the country in the medium term.
As part of the implementation of the main tasks defined in the Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan, political contacts between Uzbekistan and the UN at the highest levels have noticeably intensified in recent years.
Uzbekistan attaches particular importance to efforts to put an end to the many years of bloody war in Afghanistan, which have brought enormous disasters to the Afghan people and become a source of serious threats to the entire region. Our country makes an effective contribution to the implementation of UN programs for the post-conflict reconstruction of Afghanistan; in particular, it has opened a bridge on the Uzbek-Afghan border for international deliveries of humanitarian supplies and is assisting in the construction of many infrastructure facilities on the territory of Afghanistan.
Uzbekistan provides all possible assistance to international organizations and individual countries in carrying out their humanitarian activities in Afghanistan through Termez. Thus, on the initiative of the leadership of Uzbekistan, an International Transport and Logistics Hub was created in Termez to ensure centralized and targeted delivery of humanitarian goods to Afghanistan. The opportunities in Termez are actively used by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Program.
As a result of the Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan, held in March 2018, its final declaration was circulated in April of the same year as an official document of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly and Security Council. In addition, information about the efforts made by the leadership of Uzbekistan to peacefully resolve the situation in Afghanistan and mention of the Tashkent Conference were included in the report of the UN Secretary-General, “The Situation in Afghanistan and its Implications for International Peace and Security,” published in September 2018.
The holding of a conference around Afghanistan in July 2022 in Tashkent also became a great contribution of Uzbekistan to ensuring sustainable peace and stability in this country. Currently, work is being carried out within the UN to promote the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan to create an International Negotiating Group on Afghanistan.
Cooperation between Uzbekistan and the UN on issues of ecology and environmental protection is intensifying. In this area, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev draws attention to another acute and urgently solving planetary problem—the tragedy of the Aral Sea—and calls for focusing the efforts of the world community on “reducing the destructive impact of this environmental disaster on the livelihoods of millions of people living in Central Asia and preserving the natural and biological balance in the Aral Sea region.”
In accordance with the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan, put forward during the general debates of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, in 2018, under the auspices of the UN, a Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) on human security for the Aral Sea region was created, the presentation of which took place in November 2018 at the headquarters of the organization’s apartment with the participation of its Secretary General António Guterres.
As the UN chief stated during the presentation, “this structure will significantly improve the living conditions of the local population and will contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
At the initiative of our country and jointly with the UN Office in Uzbekistan, on October 24–25, 2019, an International High-Level Conference on Declaring the Aral Sea Region a Zone of Environmental Innovation and Technology was held in Nukus. About 250 participants from 28 countries, including leaders and representatives of authoritative international organizations, took part in it.
On December 19, 2019, the UN General Assembly at its plenary session adopted a special resolution “Sustainable Tourism and Sustainable Development in Central Asia,” the initiative of which was put forward by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in April 2019 in Beijing during a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The draft document, developed by Uzbekistan and submitted on behalf of all five Central Asian countries, was unanimously supported by all UN member states. The document was co-authored by over 50 countries in North and Latin America, Asia, Africa, and other continents, which indicates widespread recognition by the international community of the relevance and timeliness of the initiative of the leader of Uzbekistan.
In Uzbekistan’s interaction with the UN, special attention is paid to the issues of preserving and strengthening religious tolerance and solving pressing problems related to the lives of young people. The head of our state, during the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York, put forward an initiative to develop and adopt the UN General Assembly resolution “Enlightenment and religious tolerance.”
Speaking from the high rostrum of the UN, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said that the main goal of the resolution proposed by Uzbekistan is “to ensure universal access to education and the elimination of illiteracy and ignorance.” The document is intended to “promote tolerance and mutual respect, ensure religious freedom, protect the rights of believers, and prevent discrimination against them.”
In accordance with profound transformations in all spheres of society, Uzbekistan for the first time nominated its candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for 2021-2023 and, with the support of the majority of states, became a member of the leading and most authoritative international body in the field of human rights protection.
Uzbekistan’s cooperation with UNESCO deserves special attention, which has risen to a qualitatively new level in recent years. In 2018, in Paris, in 2019, in Samarkand, and in 2022, in Tashkent, meetings between President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay took place.
In 2021, in collaboration with UNESCO, the International Advisory Committee on the Protection of Historical Heritage Sites was created. In the same year, in Khiva, on the initiative of Uzbekistan and together with UNESCO, the International Cultural Forum “Central Asia: At the Crossroads of World Civilizations” was organized. The resolution “Khiva Process: Further Development of Cooperation in Central Asia,” developed as a result of this forum, was unanimously adopted by the UNESCO General Conference at its 41st session in November 2021.
In July 2022, Uzbekistan, for the first time in its history, became a member of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage for 2022–2026,
On November 14–16, 2022, the second UNESCO World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education was held in Tashkent with the participation of UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, representatives of about 150 countries, and officials of international organizations. Following the 216th session of the UNESCO Executive Board, held on May 10–24, 2023, in Paris, the resolution “Implementation of the Tashkent Declaration and commitments to take measures to transform early childhood care and education” was unanimously adopted.
12 elements of Uzbek culture are included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: Shashmakom, the cultural space of Boysun, Katta Ashula, the art of wit Askiya, the traditions and culture associated with pilaf, the traditions of celebrating Navruz, the preservation of traditional technologies for the production of atlases and adras at the Margilan Center for the Development of Crafts, Lazgi, miniature art, Bakhshi art, sericulture, and traditional silk production, and traditional stories about Khoja Nasreddin.
International tourism is actively developing in our country. Cooperation with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which Uzbekistan joined in 1993, plays an important role in this. The UNWTO regional center for tourism development on the Great Silk Road operates in Samarkand. The International University of Tourism “Silk Road” has also been established in Samarkand, which is one of the most famous and prestigious institutions of higher education and the first university in the field of tourism in Uzbekistan.
The 25th session of the UNWTO General Assembly will be held in Samarkand on October 16–20, 2023. There is active cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the fight against infectious and non-infectious diseases, promoting a healthy lifestyle, and strengthening the national health care system. The framework for cooperation between Uzbekistan and WHO is a two-year cooperation agreement between the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan and the WHO Regional Office for Europe.
Delegations from Uzbekistan regularly participate in sessions of the World Health Assembly and the WHO Regional Office for Europe. Since 2021, WHO has been the lead organization to assist the country in implementing health sector reform and piloting it in a pilot region (Syr Darya), including the introduction of public health insurance.
In recent years, the efforts of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Uzbekistan have significantly intensified. In November 2022, the forum was successfully held in Tashkent with the International Public Foundation “Zamin” “Ensuring children’s rights to a healthy environment”, dedicated to World Children’s Day.
On February 11, 2021, in New York, during a session of the UNICEF Executive Board, a new Country Cooperation Program of the Fund for Uzbekistan until 2025 was approved.
The Population Fund (UNFPA) occupies a significant place in the UN system in Uzbekistan in the implementation of programs in the areas of population and reproductive health. Uzbekistan is carrying out productive work with the fund by preparing and conducting a population census.
At the current stage, the fifth UNFPA country program is being implemented, within the framework of which various trainings, seminars, and conferences on reproductive health are being held. Centers for social and legal support for women have been created in the country, and work is underway to update clinical protocols, modernize medical institutions, and train and improve the qualifications of specialists.
In November 2022, together with UNFPA, a Demographic Laboratory was launched in the Republic to strengthen the capacity of government officials on population issues and the development of demographic science and research.
There is an intensification of interaction between Uzbekistan and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). Together with this structure, international forums and conferences on gender and youth issues are organized, projects are implemented in specialized areas, and measures are taken to fully support Uzbekistan’s efforts to increase the role of women in society.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) highly appreciates the progress achieved in Uzbekistan in recent years to create conditions for decent work, eradicate forced and child labor, and protect the rights and freedoms of workers. Our country has ratified 20 ILO conventions, including nine out of the 10 fundamental ones. Taking into account the recommendations of the ILO, a new edition of the Law “On Employment” and a new edition of the Labor Code were developed and adopted.
Currently, the country program on decent work of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2021–2025 is being implemented, which includes such areas as improving the legal framework regulating labor relations, expanding opportunities for education, employment, and decent work for youth, women, and vulnerable groups of the population, and strengthening the institutional capacity of social dialogue and partners.
In recent years, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has become one of our country’s significant partners. Currently, the Road Map for the Development of Cooperation between Uzbekistan and IOM is being implemented. Together with the IOM, projects on labor migration, border management, combating human trafficking, and improving the skills of specialists in recruiting labor migrants are being implemented in the republic.
In short, the efforts of our country are fully supported by the leadership and member countries of the UN, since the initiatives put forward by the Uzbek side are consistent with the goals of the global organization, including the Sustainable Development Goals, aimed at strengthening peace, stability, and prosperity on our planet.
As an active supporter of lasting peace and an initiator of a comprehensive expansion of cooperation in the international arena, Uzbekistan always pays great attention to interaction with the UN and its specialized structures.
Undoubtedly, the participation of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the World Leaders’ Forum will allow Uzbekistan to announce new important ideas and initiatives that will serve to solve the global problems of our time in the name of universal sustainable development.