THE NEW EDITION OF THE CONSTITUTION OF UZBEKISTAN SERVES THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
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Today, given that 35% of the population of Uzbekistan, that is, more than 12.1 million people are children, the issues of ensuring the interests of children are one of the main priorities of the policy of the state.
In recent years, Uzbekistan, implementing a policy in the interests of children, has been adhering to the principle ‘no child will be left without care and attention.’ The country is committed to its international obligations, including those adopted under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In improving this policy, much attention is paid to the recommendations of the UN convention bodies, UNICEF and international experts.
The National Strategy of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Human Rights, adopted in 2020, defines priority areas for protecting the interests of children, including the tasks of effectively implementing the principle of giving top priority to the interests of the child into practice and legislation, as well as introducing justice institution that provides for special treatment of children.
Among of the striking achievements of the country in this area in recent years, the following can be noted: the eradication of child labour, introduction of the position of the Commissioner for Children’s Rights, the return of 530 women and children from conflict zones (during the five ‘Kindness’ missions which had been arranged, 530 women and children had been brought back to Uzbekistan from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and been integrated back into society).
In addition, if we take the education system only, a clear positive trend can be noted. For example, if in 2016 there were 9.7 thousand general education schools and 77 higher educational institutions (HEI) in the country, today their number has reached 10.3 thousand schools and more than 200 HEIs, respectively. As early as in the recent past, the rate of preschool enrollment for children in the country was only 27%. As the result of the measures taken, in recent years, the number of children in daycare centres has increased from 600 thousand to 2 million ones, so their enrollment has reached 70%. Also, organizational and legal mechanisms for ensuring inclusive education are being improved in the country.
It should be noted that, along with the achievements in the field of ensuring the interests of children, there are still problems, the solution of which requires the continuation of the initiated reforms and the strengthening of a systematic approach.
In this context, it should be emphasized that as part of the constitutional reform, new progressive norms are being introduced into the Supreme Law of our country, which are aimed at strengthening the guarantees for ensuring the rights and interests of the child. In particular, the project of the new edition of the Constitution stipulates that ‘the ensuring and protection of the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of the child, the creation of the best conditions for his or her full physical, mental and cultural development shall be the responsibility of the state.’
This constitutional norm was included on the basis of proposals of citizens, taking into account national and international experience, expert opinions, and also taking into account the principle of ‘the best interests of the child,’ which is an international standard and one of the core principles reflected in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
It can be separately noted that by enshrining this norm, and, in particular, using the term ‘best conditions,’ the state assumes a colossal responsibility for taking measures based on the principle of ‘the best interests of the child.’
This new constitutional norm will:
firstly, make it possible to strengthen the legal foundations of Uzbekistan’s policy in the field of ensuring the rights and interests of children, improve the institutional conditions for the full development of children;
secondly, promote the implementation of an approach, under which the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in all legislative, judicial and administrative decisions that concern children;
thirdly, increase the responsibility of state bodies and society in understanding and respecting the rights of children, and also contribute to increasing the culture of respect for the rights of the child in society.
In general, the new constitutional norm is an important legal foundation for ensuring the full development and well-being of every child in Uzbekistan.
Doniyor Turaev, Deputy Director of the Institute for Legislative Problems and Parliamentary Studies under the Oliy Majlis