Stefan Priesner: Opening Speech at international roundtable on International experience on raising awareness for stakeholders about recently adopted laws: legal regulations and practical aspects

Jun 24, 2015

Mr. Zilyaev, Mrs. Artikova, Mr. Szabo

Distinguished participants!

Ladies and gentlemen!

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme in Uzbekistan, I extend my warm greetings and would like congratulate the General Prosecutor’s Office to organize this event and making it truly a multi-partnership event.

I would like to start by setting the importance of this roundtable in the context of the Presidential speech during inauguration ceremony of the both Chambers of the Parliament where particular emphasis was placed on enhancing the rule of law, beginning with the quality of laws and implementation of laws. In addition, it attention was given to upholding the process of awareness raising for stakeholders and efficiency of law execution process.

This spans nicely the “rule of law” cycle: from quality of normative framework to the quality of institutions, i.e. effective government and justice to implement and resolve disputes as well as capacity of the population to know not only their rights, but also their obligations.

Regarding the quality of laws there are many technical requirements, but I want to highlight the importance of harmonization with international standards, including human rights and anti-corruption commitments.

As UN Secretary General highlighted during his recent visit to Central Asia, I quote: “The road to a stable future is by strengthening the rule of law.  By fighting corruption.  By ensuring an independent judiciary.  By guaranteeing free media. By building just societies.  By empowering citizens”.

Hence the rule of law can be called the backbone of the nexus between national development and international standards.

2015 is a momentous year for development, with a new international development framework tо be approved, the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) framework. As a novelty it is also focused on rule of law and accountable institutions as Goal No. 16, which is directed to promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provision the access to justice for all and building an effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. As a shift from Millennium Development Goals which were mostly focused on social and economic issues, SDGs will now pay attention to governance and rule of laws issues too. In this regard, I would like to underline the following points of SDG No. 16:

-          develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels

-          ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements

-          promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development.

Importance of awareness raising

Awareness raising is critical for the behavioral change function of laws.  Increased awareness from the standpoint of citizens means that people are better equipped to avoid legal problems and disputes. They can take early preventive actions to overcome a problem, thus avoiding it escalating into more serious issue. Hence, a prevention function of legal awareness raising is important. Increased awareness may also help protect rights and to find the appropriate remedy if rights are infringed. Hence, it is essential to address the needs of the disadvantaged groups of population while drafting new laws and making public aware of the law.  

This is much easier if there is “buy-in” for the new law. Therefore the consultations of stakeholders and public awareness raising during legislative drafting will already have an impact, credibility and trust. I commend the Government’s efforts for conducting online public discussions of the draft normative legal acts, affecting business within the framework of regulatory impact assessment procedure. It is essential to replicate this experience to public discussion of all draft legislation concerning social and economic, cultural and environmental issues.

UNDP in Uzbekistan provided support in development elements of raising awareness for stakeholders and population about recently adopted laws, including on establishment of online legal database www.lex.uz that provides a free access to national legislation of Uzbekistan, piloted local government Information Centers in regions, which could also play a significant role in performing legal awareness raising.

The new UNDAF 2016-2020 co-signed recently by Government will provide new opportunities for partnership and cooperation. One of main pillars of UN development assistance is promotion of efficient governance and rule of law in the country. In this context we look forward to further strengthening our cooperation with General Prosecutor Office and other national partners.

I wish to all of us a constructive discussion and sharing experience and opinion openly during this event.

Thank you for attention.

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