Good day distinguished guests, dear participants of the conference!
Let me first express my sincere gratitude to the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan for the invitation to participate in this conference and thank our long-term and dedicated partner for the excellent cooperation and continuous support provided to UNDP in our joint initiatives.
Over the past several years, the Ministry of Justice has become a role model for many public agencies in Uzbekistan in terms of initiating and advancing bold and systemic reforms on effective governance, transparency, public service delivery and civil service.
Its ambition, determination and most importantly human capacity has helped the ministry to successfully implement difficult reforms to the benefit of people in Uzbekistan.
Today we see a completely different Ministry of Justice, compared to what it was several years ago, and I would like to share some reflections on its new image.
New Image of the Ministry of Justice and its Role in Domestic Reforms
The Ministry is playing a catalytic role in accelerating the legal and public administration reforms in Uzbekistan. It is successfully introducing anti-corruption procedures and people-oriented practices in a number of government agencies to enhance their accountability, efficiency and capacity to serve citizens better.
Thanks to its active legal advocacy for the protection of the landowners’ rights, the ministry has earned wide popular support when the challenges of illegal seizure of land plots are very acute in the country.
We see the Ministry, which prioritizes human-focused innovations, digitalization and use of new technologies to transform institutions, promote transparency and introduce change management.
The young average age of personnel and the significant proportion of women among its staff, in particular among managers is a great advantage of the Ministry.
The Ministry is also known for its effective internal anti-corruption policies.
It was the first agency to introduce meritocracy in recruitment, an anti-corruption management system, launched hotlines for reporting fraud, and introduced video surveillance in the work of notaries, who were used to known for corruption.
For the past four years (2017-2020), the Ministry of Justice has been ranked as top corruption-free public institution in Uzbekistan based on the national anticorruption assessment framework, and it is the first government agency to obtain International Certificate of Compliance (with requirements of the Anticorruption Management Systems according to ISO 37001).
As one of the most committed stakeholders of ongoing reforms in Uzbekistan, we as UNDP greatly appreciate and welcome your determination and commitment to advance public administration reform and build accountable and transparent public sector that demonstrates service excellence and integrity.
Cooperation between MoJ and UNDP
Since 2004, the Ministry of Justice has been a close and strategic partner of UNDP. We have enjoyed fruitful and constructive support and cooperation of the Ministry for many years and have jointly implemented a number of important initiatives.
In this regard, I am excited to note that cooperation between UNDP and Ministry of Justice prioritizes achieving comprehensive and lasting impact towards corruption-free sustainable development through effective governance by accelerating the implementation of SDG 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”.
For example, our joint Anticorruption project that was launched in 2018, has achieved several notable and tangible results throughout 2018-2021.
The most important one is the introduction of an anti-corruption compliance management system in 13 government agencies, including 4 critical ministries, 4 local governments (khokimiyats), 2 strategic state-owned enterprises (SOEs) – UzOilGas and UzChemicalIndustry.
As a result, the Government has adopted the introduction of the anti-corruption compliance management system as a priority of state policy and assigned this task to the new Anti-Corruption Agency.
Much more is yet to come in this area. UNDP is planning to support the implementation of the initiatives of the recent Anticorruption Decree of the President of Uzbekistan and the State Anticorruption Program for 2021-2022.
Another strategic area of our collaboration with the ministry is transformation of public service delivery and local governance, which aims at improving the quality of life of the vulnerable population in rural areas and enhancing people’s voice and participation in decision-making processes.
As part of our joint initiative on improved public service delivery and enhanced governance in rural Uzbekistan, launched in 2019 with support of the European Union:
We have helped equip and open 5 new Public Service Centers in the pilot regions (Khavast, Bakhmal, Nurafshan, Dekhkanabad, and Shurchi) to showcase an exemplar model of public service delivery. The new centers feature better accessibility infrastructure (including wheelchairs and Braille tactile map for PwDs), a self-service corner and specially trained volunteers, which stand ready to support every visitor and assist people living in distant makhallas to obtain public services remotely.
We have also conducted digital transformation of 31 public services to apply for licenses and permits, which are now accessible through the new digital platform (license.gov.uz) launched in January 2021. As of today, some 9900 applications have been processed by the new platform.
Last but not least, we have built technical capacity of the Civil Registry Office to digitize 60 million paper-based civil records of country citizens. This is expected to boost a large number of digital services, which depend on civil data.
Later this year, UNDP will present a Strategy for Reforming Public Service Delivery in Uzbekistan until 2025, which aims at comprehensive transformation of the public service delivery system based on innovation, user-centric approach and inter-agency collaboration.
At the end of my speech, let me reiterate that UNDP looks forward to seeing future successes of the Ministry of Justice in advancing the governance reform in Uzbekistan.
I hope that the Ministry will maintain its leadership role and high pace of change, build stronger partnerships with international community, and will succeed in converting its dedication to transform governance and fight corruption into actions.
As Uzbekistan is preparing to enter a new phase of its development, more dedication and efforts will be needed from both national and international stakeholders to sustain the reform speed and scale.
UNDP stands ready to further support the Ministry in overcoming challenges of reforms and sustainable development and looks forward to elevating our successful partnership to new levels.