Three members of a visiting delegation from the Oily Majlis (Parliament) of Uzbekistan, His Excellency Sodiq Safaev, Her Excellency Svetlana Artikova, His Excellency Akmal Saidov,  discussed the expanding role of Uzbekistan’s parliament in the governing process at an event hosted by Carnegie. Martha Olcott moderated.

His Excellency Sodiq Safaev, chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Senate of the Oily Majlis, outlined the mission of the Uzbek delegation’s current trip to Washington:

  • To study and learn from Washington about parliamentary democracy, the system of checks and balances, the system of parliamentarian monitoring over the functioning of executive branch of power, the relationship with mass media, the experience of party fractions within legislation, and the interrelationship between parties and committees.
  • To have a dialogue with Uzbekistan’s partners on the Hill, in think tanks, and with the Obama administration. He explained that the United States and Uzbekistan are on the same team when it comes to tackling issues, such as narcotics production and its traffic, international terrorism, organized crime, and religious extremism. Safaev called for increasing mutual efforts in combating these issues. 
  • To increase understanding of and inform Washington about tendencies in Uzbekistan, and how Uzbekistan is addressing its nation-building challenges.

Safaev identified Uzbekistan’s four main goals in its development as a nation:

  • To move from a strong government to a strong society includes the following dimensions of decentralization:

    • Delegation of power from executive to other branches of power;
    • Delegation of power from central government to provinces and local councils: the delegation of rights and responsibilities, as well as of fiscal opportunities to manage their own budgets;
    • Delegation of power from state to business: to decrease state intervention. In 2010, only 25 percent of Uzbekistan’s GDP was attributed to government spending; whereas, ten years ago it was almost 100 percent;
    • Delegation of power from state to NGOs: NGOs increasingly act as social partners to bring public goods to the population.

  • To complete the transition from a totalitarian regime to secular democracy: the new generation of Uzbeks is committed to the goal of building a secular democracy in Uzbekistan, vowed Safaev. And a liberal democracy should be strong enough to protect itself from trends like socialistic nostalgia and radical Islam.
  • To transition from a command economy to a market economy.
  • To address the region’s security issues: Afghanistan, water management problems, and geopolitical rivalries. 

Her Excellency Svetlana Artikova, chairman of the Committee of Legislation and Judicial Issues of the Senate of the Oily Majlis, spoke about judicial reform in Uzbekistan, highlighting its major stages, including the development of specialized courts (criminal, civil, and economic), the elimination of the confiscation of lawfully gained personal property from criminals and their relatives, the introduction of habeas corpus for certain categories of crimes, and the elimination of capital punishment.

His Excellency Akmal Saidov, chairman of the Committee of Democratic Institutions, NGOs and Self-Governing Bodies of the Legislative Chamber of the Oily Majlis, spoke about civil society development in Uzbekistan. He discussed the main directions and priorities of Uzbek policies in the area of human rights.

He concluded, “On the whole, promotion of human rights in Uzbekistan depends on further strengthening of the legal mechanisms and procedures of the [human rights] organization in practice, consolidation of efforts of state bodies and institutes of civil society in the sphere, [and] development of the level of legal culture of the population in the country on issues related to the protection of human rights.”